Cook will not forget his ‘tough call’ to Gooch

NO LONGER NEEDED: England’s Alastair Cook, right, and Graham Gooch, who has been axed as batting coach

NO LONGER NEEDED: England’s Alastair Cook, right, and Graham Gooch, who has been axed as batting coach

First published in Sport

ALASTAIR COOK made one of the toughest phone calls of his life to tell his boyhood hero Graham Gooch he was no longer required by England.

Cook has followed in Gooch’s footsteps, and benefited from his long-term guidance, first at Essex and then as a record runscorer and leader for his country.

On the day England also announced the first squad of Peter Moores’ second tenure as head coach - to face Scotland in a one-day international in Aberdeen on May 9 - the captain found himself reliving last weekend’s conversation with Gooch.

Cook admits it was a daunting prospect to inform the man he has looked up to for so long of his and Moores’ decision to call time on him as batting coach.

‘‘Everyone knows how close we are - and we’ve been through quite a lot together,’’ Cook said, at Waitrose’s official launch as England’s new team sponsor.

‘‘To make a decision on a guy I’ve had so much respect for, and the whole of England has, was tough.

‘‘I was telling a man, who I used to go and queue up to get his autograph and hope he’d score runs, that it’s time to move on.

‘‘I’ll remember that for a long time.’’ Cook knew he must be the one to make the call.

‘‘It’s a very hard thing to do,’’ he said. But the calibre of Goochie especially, as a person, he was telling me: ’I totally understand’.

‘‘For him to say that, when a 29-year-old is telling him ’we want to move on’, shows just why I hold him in such high regard.’’ The likelihood is Gooch will be replaced shortly. But Cook still expects he and some of his team-mates will retain their association with the 60- year-old, the latest key figure to depart the scene following last winter’s Ashes whitewash.

‘‘I hope that relationship will continue – not just with me,’’ Cook said.

‘‘I know Belly [Ian Bell] has used him a hell of a lot, and has had great rewards, and we hope we can continue doing that on a one-to-one basis.

‘‘I’ve worked with him for 11 years like that, and I know that’s his greatest strength.’’ The mutual admiration will endure too.

‘‘We were both very clear we want to remain friends,’’ the England captain added.

‘‘He was immediately talking about other stuff ... how I can go on in my game. That was quite humbling.

‘‘This is professionalism, and will not affect how we feel about each other.’’ Gooch said: ‘‘I’m not going to think bad of Alastair about this. Playing for England is bigger than the individual and what’s right for England is the way forward.

‘‘I think it’s a joint decision – the captain and coach’s decisions have to be pretty much as one. Alastair was in favour of the decision and I respect that.

‘‘He knows he needs to look at the way he handles a side and stamp authority on a team and making a decision like this is good for him. He has to believe in the decisions he makes.

‘‘We’ll still be friends forever and hopefully I’ll still be involved in his game in some way.

‘‘He’s been a great role model with the bat. He’s had a tough winter scoring runs but I’m confident he’ll come back to his best and lead England from the top of the order.’’ Since the end of the Ashes, England – in contrasting circumstances are also minus Andy Flower as team director and, of course, their other record runscorer Kevin Pietersen.

Limited-overs coach Ashley Giles is gone too, having lost out to Moores to effectively replace Flower.

The latter’s England and Wales Cricket Board mentoring role will reportedly extend to helping Lancashire’s Glen Chapple adapt as playercoach at Old Trafford.

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