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On 28 August 2012, the morning of a One Day International in Southampton, Alastair Cook was asked to see England team coach, Andy Flower, and Managing Director of England cricket, Hugh Morris. They got to the point of the meeting quickly. First, they informed him that England Test Captain, Andrew Strauss, had resigned with immediate effect. Second, they said they would like Cook to take the job. He accepted immediately and dressed as Cook says ‘in his flip flops, shorts and T-Shirt’, he returned to his pre-match daytime TV viewing as England Test Captain.
There was an inevitability about the appointment. Speculation as to when Strauss – aged 35 – would call time on his cricket career was mounting. And Cook, who served under Strauss as Vice-Captain and led the England One Day International team for 18 months, was widely tipped to take on the Test Captain role. However, he has big boots to fill. Strauss is arguably the most successful England captain in modern history, having led the side to Ashes victories at home and in Australia, not to mention to the position of Number 1 Test side in the world in 2011.
Furthermore, Cook started the job with two major and immediate challenges. On-the-field to regain some of the momentum lost during the series defeat to the South Africans in the Summer of 2012. And off-thefield, to work with the England team management to tackle the ‘Pietersen problem’ – whether to allow the team’s star batsman back into the side after a public fall-out with Strauss which undermined the harmony of the team.
Six weeks into his captaincy – and just before he left for his first tour as Captain to India – FTI Consulting invited Alastair Cook to an event to discuss the challenges of succession into a leadership role. To draw parallels between the sporting and business world, Cook was joined on the panel by Simon Lee, who became Chief Executive of RSA in November 2011. John Waples, Head of the UK Strategic Communications practice at FTI Consulting, chaired the debate.