England to follow Aussie example
Alastair Cook's England are prepared to copy the example set by Australia if that is the best way to 'reconnect' with their own public.
Captain Cook and his players were struck by the empathy and rapport their Ashes conquerors had with supporters during Australia's romp to an unexpected 5-0 whitewash of the tourists last winter.
England are striving to make a break with that past, and Cook is a near sole survivor in his senior position following the departures from their established roles of Andy Flower, Kevin Pietersen and others over the past three months.
The earliest days of the new era under head coach Peter Moores have been characterised by a chorus to 'connect' - as team-mates and as personalities with those who follow English cricket.
Cook was a central figure in Flower's regime, so successful until the unmitigated failure of the 2013/14 Ashes campaign.
But even amid all the accolades of previous Ashes wins and other major achievements, there was a creeping perception of austerity years as England perhaps sacrificed a broader appeal in pursuit of victory.
Attritional cricket and monosyllabic responses were increasingly noted by many pundits.
Change is afoot, however, and Cook has made it clear he and his team-mates will not be above borrowing from their Ashes rivals - or even the England rugby union team - to make sure they maximise their potential.
"Australia connected with their public very well," he said.
"Maybe we became very insular as a side - it worked very well at some points for us, but when it wasn't going well we didn't have anything to fall back on.
"The guys in the dressing room are good people, they are nice guys. The public don't see that enough.
"I hope we can copy Australia a little bit in the way they did it."
In rugby union, the England team under coach Stuart Lancaster also appear to have reinvented themselves.
"Lessons should be learned from England rugby," added Cook.
"Huge credit to Stuart Lancaster and the guys for the way they have managed to change things.
"I imagine it's taken a hell of a lot of effort and work ... but everyone can see the development in their side."
Cook sees no reason, however - despite plenty of advice, partisan and otherwise - to deconstruct his own personality and demeanour on the pitch.
He has been depicted by some as an automaton server to the tactics devised by Flower.
But he disputes that, and insists he has been and will continue to be his own man.
"Anyone who knows me knows I have an opinion, and can be quite stubborn," Cook said.
"You are out there in the middle and you have to make decisions as a captain.
"Just because you consult other people doesn't mean you can't make your own decisions.
"You still have to make that final decision and be responsible for it."
Cook proved he is prepared to make a tough call when he and Moores concluded that time was up for Graham Gooch as batting coach, and then last weekend took it upon himself to deliver the message personally by phone to his near lifelong friend and mentor.
It will, of course, be results rather than method which define the Cook and Moores era - and the captain acknowledges they could do without an early stumbling block in Friday's opening assignment, a one-day international against Scotland in Aberdeen.
"It's an important fixture. It is always a banana skin," Cook said.
"The quality we have got, if we play well we'll win.
"If we don't, they will put us under pressure and we could lose a game of cricket.
"It won't be the end of the world - but it won't be the best start."
Irrespective of the outcome north of the border, repaying supporters who travelled in hope to Australia or watched in horror from afar will stay at the top of Cook's agenda.
"They do support us through thick and thin," he said.
"Just judging since I have been back, they have been very supportive - disappointed about Australia, like we all were, but we hope we can reward them for that support now."