England v Sri Lanka 2014 - Shane Warne suggests Alastair Cook quit captaincy or take a break
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Warne To Cook: Mate, Improve Tactically Or Take A Break

London: England captain Alastair Cook remains unable to shake off criticism from Australia great Shane Warne, who for the second time in ten days has commented on what he feels is negative leadership. Warne, who twice this year has already criticised Cook's marshaling of a flagging England cricket team, has now said that the 29-year-old should step aside from the captaincy or take a break from the game.

"There are three ways to go with Alastair 'Cooked' Cook. Everyone sticks their head in the sand and just allows things to keep going as is and hope he finds form with the bat and by a miracle discovers some tactical brains from somewhere. Two: he steps down from the captaincy to concentrate on his batting. Three: the most radical of all, he has a complete break away from the game," wrote Warne his column for the Daily Telegraph.

"Lots of people, including me, think it is time for him to step down as captain. The most disappointing thing for me is that he has not learned or improved after a horrible 5-0 drumming in Australia, in fact he has got worse. He is not thinking straight. He is not there. He is confused. He does not know what to do and because he is in a rut with his form it makes life a lot worse. You just cannot captain a team in transition in that frame of mind."

In between the drawn Lord's Test against Sri Lanka and the start of the second at Leeds last week, Warne had used words such as "boring" and "unimaginative" to describe Cook's defensive field settings in the first match.

On the eve of the second Test, Cook told the BBC in an interview that he felt such attacks on his leadership were "personal" and called for action to be taken against those who lash out at the England cricket team. But during the match, which England ended up losing by 100 runs to make it consecutive series defeats following the 5-0 Ashes debacle, Cook found himself under fire again, with the likes of former England captain and opener Geoffrey Boycott terming his poor batting form as a "recipe for resignation".

Cook has gone 24 Test innings without a century, but a lot of criticism has been because of a lack of positive thinking during the Headingley match, specifically on the fourth day when Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews was allowed agreeable field settings to score a match-turning 160.

"On Monday at Headingley I witnessed the worst day of captaincy I have ever seen at international level in almost 25 years in the game," wrote Warne, who took 195 of his 708 Test wickets against England. "It was horrific, and I am not the only one singing that tune. He just does not get it. Everyone watching could see the game needed a change of pace; bowl the spinner or make the seamers try and actually get Angelo Mathews out. You just cannot bowl the same stuff over after over like he did - good captains try things and are proactive, not hopeful."

Responding to Cook's suggestions that Warne's comments were personal, the 44-year-old wrote: "This column is not a personal attack and never has been, Alastair. Mate, you need to improve tactically or England need someone else in the job. And I am not the only one saying it. Please speak to (former England captains) Michael Vaughan, Nasser Hussain and other successful captains who were tough, ruthless and got it. Also, if I was an Aussie cheerleader, as the ECB thinks I am, I would not be criticising Cook. I would be saying keep him in the job because that would be the best thing for Australia during the Ashes next year. I have always been open to talking to Alastair, like I always have with any other player from any country, if they wanted a chat over a beer."

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