• Cricket

Warne: Make KP or Swann captain

ESPN staff
November 8, 2013
Warne believes KP (right) would bring more to England than captain Cook (left) © PA Photos

Spin bowling legend Shane Warne believes England could dominate the world of Test cricket if Kevin Pietersen or Graeme Swann replaced Alistair Cook as captain.

Warne, who retired from international duty after Australia's 5-0 whitewash of England in the 2006 Ashes series, believes England may struggle to return to the position of undisputed world No. 1 under the leadership of Cook.

Since England's victorious Ashes series in the summer Warne has been a vocal critic of Cook's seemingly negative tactics - and he has reignited the debate less than two weeks before the opening Test of the winter series at The Gabba.

After a controversial spell South African-born Pietersen seems an unlikely candidate to ever lead England but Warne believes he shares an understanding of the game with Swann which England would benefit from immensely.

"That may sound like an unbelievable thing to say after all the controversy of last year but I think KP has the best cricket brain in the team," Warne wrote in his Daily Telegraph column. "Graeme Swann is good too, as we have seen from his Twenty20 captaincy of England.

"They are both imaginative, good readers of the game and take the aggressive option first, whereas Cook retreats too quickly. He goes very defensive when he should be stamping his authority on the match.

"The tour to Australia will be a good gauge as to where Cook's captaincy is right now. Remember the Kookaburra ball goes soft after the first 30-35 overs. It is then down to tactics.

"England won the Ashes in 2005 because Michael Vaughan was imaginative and proactive. He came up with different fields, attacked with the bat and challenged the opposition batsmen all the time. England will not reach that standard until they change their style of play."

And though Cook's record as England captain currently stands up to scrutiny, Warne spoke about his own career to emphasise how important a creative captain is on a world-class Test team.

"You might say what rubbish as it is all about winning. People have rightly pointed out Cook has won the Ashes and beaten India in India during the first year of his captaincy. That is a pretty good record. But my point is that if you want to be the best team in the world, which England aspire to be, then you have to have more aggression from the leader.

"I played for 15 years in one of the best teams of all time, winning in all conditions against all opposition. We had some great players, sure, but we also needed a good captain with imagination."

Swann has impressed Warne as England's Twenty20 captain © Getty Images

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