Cook Should Step Down: Atherton

Beleaguered England captain Alastair Cook should step down and take a break from the sport to avoid suffering from a damaging burnout that could end his career, according to former captain Michael Atherton.

Cook has gone 27 Test innings without a century and presided over England's 5-0 Ashes capitulation in Australia which was followed by a 1-0 home loss to Sri Lanka ahead of the current five-match series against India.

On Monday, India's modest attack ripped through England's paper-thin defences to take a 1-0 lead in the five-match series, prompting calls for Cook's sacking after the Essex cricketer stubbornly refused to step down.

"For all the resolve... to carry on regardless, common sense should prevail in the interests of the man and his team," Atherton wrote in the Times a day after England fell to a humiliating 95-run defeat to India at Lord's.

"It gives no pleasure to write it, but the tap on the shoulder for Alastair Cook should come. The cruellest cut would also be the kindest cut, as it would be in this fine cricketer's best interests, so that he can find a way to score runs and enjoy his cricket again.

Cook, though, is determined to carry on.

"It gets harder and harder the more we don't win," Cook said at the presentation ceremony. "It heaps it on me. Until I'm tapped on the shoulder, I'm desperate to turn it around. I'm here until the end of the summer."

Cook appears to enjoy the backing of his board and head coach Peter Moores despite a winless streak that stretched to 10 matches following India's second Test victory at Lord's.

Many are not sure whether England have an alternative choice as captain, although Atherton is not one of them.

"There is always an alternative - Ian Bell, Joe Root, Stuart Broad, Eoin Morgan are names that would be worthy of close scrutiny - and, more than that, people can surprise you when given extra authority and responsibility. England lose more than they gain by having an out-of-form Cook leading the side."


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