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Cooke believes criticism by Warne et al is over the top and 'personal'

Alastair Cook, the England captain, has hit back at critics of his leadership, not least Shane Warne, with a robust defence of his credentials.

Cook has found himself in the former Australia leg-spinner's sights for much of his tenure as captain, his tactics and style having been frequently criticised.

Prior to England's 5-0 Ashes defeat Down Under, Warne branded Cook "negative" and "boring" and advised the England and Wales Cricket Board to ditch him and appoint the now departed Kevin Pietersen in his place. Other commentators and analysts have called into question Cook's perceived defensive nature in the field but Warne's has been by far the most prolonged and pronounced.

In the main, Cook has responded with equanimity but on the eve of the second Test against Sri Lanka, and with the timing of his declaration in the drawn series opener attracting fresh debate, the 29-year-old went on the offensive.

Questioned about the views of Warne, and others, by Jonathan Agnew, he said: "Something needs to be done because in three years I've been England captain I have just, in my eyes, been criticised for a hell of a lot of that. Yes, when we lose games of cricket as a captain you get criticised but I've also won a lot of games of cricket for England, won more one-day games than anyone as England captain, won an Ashes, won in India away and that's what I'm proud of as well. So to be criticised for three years, totally, with those results, I find quite hard to take to be honest with you. Support and positivity is what this England team needs."

When Agnew asked if he believed it was personal, the Essex batsman added: "Yeah, I think it is."

Cricket is unique in international sport for the sheer number of prominent ex-captains and prominent former players present on matchday media duty. On any given day of a Test in England as many as half a dozen of Cook's predecessors are likely to be providing punditry at the ground, with overseas commentators such as Warne swelling the ranks.

When it was put to Cook that he might be tempted to pick any of their brains in a bid to inform his on-field decisions, he was underwhelmed by the idea. "I think we keep it in house. With cricket tactics there is always a different way of doing it," he said. "It's trying to get the best result at the end of the day. Everyone will have a different view from it. That's cricket."

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