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Irisn International cricketer, Gary Wilson’s exclusive column

Being captain of a team has its ups and downs, as Englands Alastair Cook can testify

Being captain of a team has its ups and downs, as Englands Alastair Cook can testify

The season is around a third of the way through. It seems as though we have been playing every day, yet it feels like only a few days ago that we were starting the season off with a game against Glamorgan at the Kia Oval.

That day if someone had said to me that the club would go on and be in second position in the league with a realistic chance of promotion, in the quarter finals of the Nat West t20 Blast and that I was going to take over the captaincy after four games I’d probably thought they were on something.

I’ve said before what an honour it was to be asked to lead our fantastic club and it’s so true.

Obviously since I have taken over the captaincy things have gone pretty well for us and lots of people have given me a huge amount of credit, both in person and in the press.

While I find it flattering, I truly believe that while it might be my name on the team sheet with an star next to it, that it has been a real team effort.

In fact it’s more than that - it has been down to a real squad effort.

What could we put it down to? Perhaps the fact that losing someone with such influence as Graeme served as a wake up call to everyone in the squad. The need for everyone to perform and pull together became so apparent.

We have three games left in the championship and our aim will be to take it to the last game at home to Derby.

If it’s in our hands before the toss of the coin in that game, we will back ourselves to get a favourable result.

Our game last week against Kent was one that got away from us. They have now beaten us twice in the championship and hopefully that is not something that comes back to hurt us when it matters come September.

They are a good side but having won the toss at Guildford on a muggy first morning with a tinge of green in the wicket, we weren’t able to capitalise as we really should have.

As it turned out, the 303 they set us for victory on the last day was simply a bridge too far. However, the bonus points we got in the game were still enough to take us in to second place, Hampshire with a game in hand.

We now have a big break in championship cricket, our next fixture at Grace Road is one we feel we need a positive result from before travelling to Worcester to play the league leaders.

At the start of the t20 we had goals, the primary one was obviously to win the competition but to do that we first need to qualify for a Quarter Final.

We completed that with two games to go and attention immediately turned to making sure that quarter final would be at home.

With our battery of four spin bowlers, the surface at the Kia Oval suits us and is another big plus for us. We have played good cricket throughout the majority of the competition. It’s important to have a formula for winning games and while you cannot stick exclusively to that it certainly helps for everyone to know their roles inside out.

People have also asked me if taking the captaincy was the catalyst for my own purple patch. The honest answer is I don’t really know. I don’t think anyone can truly say whether the reason they are performing well is because of taking over the captaincy of a team or not.

In my opinion, it was probably just a coincidence.

I hadn’t scored the runs I wanted in the first four games, I was working hard with Graham Ford in the nets and then a big score came along. I think that’s more likely to be the reason. People will go through peaks and troughs.

Cricket is a sport which, in my opinion, is like no other. It is so mentally draining at times. I think the main reason for that is that, yes you are playing in a team but actually most of the time you are performing your chosen skill, you are on your own, i.e. Batting or bowling.

It’s very easy to pick out someone that isn’t performing in cricket because their scores are written down on a piece of paper, unlike rugby or football for example where it’s perhaps easier to hide if you are having a poor game. People would do well to take that into consideration when criticising Alastair Cook.

I’m not talking about his captaincy, I’m talking about his batting, this guy has scored 25 hundreds for England, the most by any player, he is simply out of form. He isn’t coming to the end of his career, he’s 29. Keep him in the team and he will come good.

I have found myself wanting England to do well over the last few weeks just because I want Alastair to come out the other side. Of course, if a player continues to do poorly, he deserves the criticism and nobody should be immune to that.

I read an article written by Geoff Boycott the other day though which had the headline “Only your wife and family think you should be captain”.

In my opinion a long way below the belt and I hope someone told him that.

 

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