Geoff Boycott urges Alastair Cook to think again if he is tempted to retire at the end of this winter’s Ashes series - or risk regretting his decision, as football great Sir Bobby Charlton did.
Former England opener Boycott acknowledges it may well cross the all-time national leading runscorer’s mind, by the age of 33 after Christmas, to consider how much longer he wants to go on once the Ashes are done again.
Cook is enduring a lean run of form as he approaches his 150th Test and England try to stay in the series at the WACA.
Boycott says fellow observers are merely “guessing” when they claim Cook’s demeanour at the top of the order suggests his renowned determination has begun to wane.
Nonetheless, he said: “There will come a time when, if Alastair has a bad trot for a while, it’ll cross his mind - ‘Do I really need this?’”
Manchester United supporter Boycott recalls a conversation with Charlton, in which the club’s England World Cup-winner recalled announcing the end of his career in the mid-1970s.
“Bobby Charlton told me ... when he retired, end of a long season, things not so well, he announced it, (then) he went on holiday, got back, sleeping in his own bed, and (thought), ‘Look forward to the new season, and training’.
“But he’d (already) announced his retirement, and he said (to me), ‘You should never do that’.
“Bobby said to me: ‘I made a mistake. I made a judgement when I was tired ... Oh dear, I could have done one more year, (and) loved it - but it was too late’.”
The same crossroads is looming for Cook, and BT Sport Ashes pundit Boycott believes he will be wise to avoid a hasty call - and instead return first to his family farm in Bedfordshire for some thinking time.
“If it crosses Alastair’s mind, if he has a poor series - and in five Tests, it will ... I would say, ‘Don’t make a decision at the end of this Test series’.
“’Go home, see your wife, sleep in your bed, go and count the bloody sheep you have - or whatever - just enjoy yourself’.
“After a month, six weeks (he may think): ‘Do I want to go to nets? Do I really have that desire to go and bat?’
“Then if you don’t, you say, ‘Hey, thank you very much, this is getting too hard work’.”
Boycott will not be surprised to see Cook make significant runs again before then.
But he has spotted “two technical problems” - a bigger stride needed going forward and a more effective method against the ball angled across him.
“I’ve been there myself,” he said.
“Nearly everybody has, except someone like (Don) Bradman - who never had a down period, because he was a genius.
“Alastair’s been an excellent player and he’ll be like anybody else, examining in his own mind how he got out.
“Usually, it’s when he doesn’t get out of the blockhole.
“But getting forward, and getting forward to pace, you have less time. That is the key. Pace rushes you.
“It’s not rocket science - he’ll be thinking about it, working it out. He’s smart enough, clever enough, he’s played yonks of cricket all over the world, and been very successful.”
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