England v India, 2nd Investec Test, Lord's, 5th day

Cook reiterates he is no quitter

ESPNcricinfo staff

July 21, 2014

Comments: 69 | Text size: A | A
'Prior is England's best keeper' - Cook

Alastair Cook, England's beleaguered captain, reiterated his desire to stay in the job after defeat to India at Lord's extended the team's winless run to 10 matches.

Cook's own run of poor form has coincided with England's downturn and he has not scored a century in more than a year but he received a sympathetic hand from the Lord's crowd as he said he would not be giving up the captaincy in order to lighten the burden. England trail 1-0 in the five-match series, with the third Test set to begin in Southampton on Sunday.

"It gets harder and harder the more we don't win and it all heaps on me at the end of the day," he said. "Until I get that tap on the shoulder saying 'We don't want you to be captain' I'm desperate to turn things around for England. If I'm not good enough at the end of the summer, then so be it. I'm trying my heart out to do this but I need to score runs and we need to start winning. I'm here as long as they want me.

"I've got an inner steel, which I've got to keep drawing on. First of all I've got to start scoring runs, a lot of things can change quickly from there. I hit the ball better here. I've got to back myself that a score will come. The recent past hasn't been kind to me but we have won games with me as captain and I've won a lot of one-day games as well. It's a team game, I'm fronting up and I hope the lads in the dressing room will as well."

Moores also offered Cook his supporting, describing him as "the right man" to lead England.

"He is not hiding," Moores said. "He knows he has been under pressure for a long time, in Australia and now. The first thing he is doing is starting to hit the ball better. He knows it is tough up here. Often under pressure he is at his best. He has said quite clearly he wants to carry on. He is up for the challenge. I think he is the right man for the job, I really do. It is a new team. We have to learn and improve quickly. We are getting match-winning moments and we are not taking them."

Cook credited India for outplaying his side, as they overcame losing the toss and slipping to 145 for 7 on the first day to record their first win in an overseas Test for more than three years. Despite a second Test hundred for Gary Ballance, which helped England earn a slim first-innings lead, and an encouraging stand between Joe Root and Moeen Ali to resurrect the second innings, they fell away dramatically on the final afternoon.

"It's definitely an issue of confidence and getting over the finish line," Cook said. "There's a group of players in there who are desperate to win for England. We haven't won for a long time and the longer that builds up it's going to take a serious performance from a couple of players to drag us over the line. We're not getting that at the moment. It will take a lot of determination to turn this around. The lads are hurting in the dressing room, we've got a few days off to go home and recover and then we'll come back to Southampton.

"A lot of the standout performances have been by the younger players, which is great the way they're handling Test cricket. The older guys aren't playing as well as their records suggest and that's hurting us. To win games of cricket we need at least nine or ten people playing really well. It's not happening for those guys at the moment, they've got to look at themselves. I've got to start scoring runs as well, that can only happen with a lot of hard work."

As well as the struggles of Cook and Prior, England's other senior players, Ian Bell, James Anderson and Stuart Broad, have failed to live up to their usual standards and Moores admitted it was something the selectors would have to look at.

"International cricket is about tough decisions," Moores said. "We will scrub ourselves down here and at selection tomorrow we will sit down and talk about what we think is the best England team to go forward. It is meant to be a tough environment and you are meant to look at things critically and decide if you have got the right combinations.

"We are at the end of a cycle, we have a lot of new players coming in and a lot of new players have done really well. Gary Ballance has had a fantastic Test. Joe Root's innings today was full of character. They are going to be part of the future.

"I knew it was going to be tough because the last time I came in we had lost some players. If you asked me if I thought it would be the senior players who were trying to find form and the younger players firing, I wouldn't have thought it would be that way round but it is what it is. This is a five-Test series."

Cook also gave what turned out to be premature backing to Matt Prior as "the best wicketkeeper-batsman in the country" after another difficult Test.

That loyalty proved to be in vain. Soon afterwards Prior chose to stand down for the rest of the summer because of his persistent Achilles trouble after assessing his performances with England's coaching and medical staff.

Prior made just 12 in England's second innings, as a post-lunch collapse of 5 for 25 sealed a seventh loss in the last nine Tests, following a performance with the gloves that saw him ship 36 byes. Prior was brought back into the side at the start of the summer after being dropped during the Ashes but has struggled with his fitness and managed just one fifty in four Tests.

"It's all up to Matt. He wants to carry on playing for England," Cook said before realisation dawned that he had lost his loyal deputy and go-to-man in the field. "He's got a serious amount of talent, he's been a fantastic player for England," Cook said. "It's all in the mind and he's desperate to keep on playing and wants to turn this around. He's got a place because at the moment I think he's the best wicketkeeper batsman in the country. He has to keep proving it but his record in the past suggests that.

"There were some tough takes there as well, Lord's has the ability to make a keeper look silly at some stage, so a lot of that wasn't his own fault, but he's a fighter and we want people like that in the dressing room."

Peter Moores, England's head coach, had been more cautious about the outcome. He suggested that Prior's injuries - he struggled with an Achilles problem before the Sri Lanka series and was doubtful with a tight thigh for the first India Test - may have hampered his keeping.

"The medics are going to have a look at him," Moores said. "I think he had a really tough first innings with the gloves. Credit to him, he dusted himself down and came back much stronger second innings. He has had his issues physically, we know that. We now have to assess that he is ready to go and do a good job for England."

This story was updated at 2115 BST after news that Matt Prior would miss the rest of the series because of Achilles toruble

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by eggyroe on (July 22, 2014, 14:10 GMT)

@surfatwork,The point I was making is that in my humble opinion Alistair Cook in his position of captain is tactically naive,and my comment about Dhoni was in agreement with a comment by Ian Chappell that wondered if Dhoni could change from a successful 1 Day Captain to a proactive Test Match Captain.Again in my humble opinion,I do not think in these 2 Test Matches he has achieved this albeit winning the latest match.Your comment about what Dhoni worked out with Ishant,was this the fruit of something that had taken 9 Days of Test Match Play to be worked out by the Captain,or was it a word in the ear of the Captain.With all the stick being flung around in Cook's direction,I think that Dhoni should not be exempt from some of it because of his the showing in the 2 Test Matches.After all everybody is entitled to have and express that opinion.

Posted by CaptainSensible on (July 22, 2014, 13:19 GMT)

A successful team is one with a very good captain at the helm. (Warne being Ponting's captain, aside). As a lifelong Essex follower I admire Cook for his batting but having been at Lords for the entire test I saw a very, very poor captain. And unlike almost all other sports the Captain in a game of cricket makes hundreds of vital decisions every day on the field of play, each of which may affect the outcome, Cooks decisions are not natural at all. Captaincy is an instinctive art. Calling for KP is as pointless as calling for Freddie or Both. What we need is a young captain with a cricketing brain who can take cricketing risks on the field and be a solid performer. I would go with Ballance. Root or Broad and appoint one of the excellent County wicket keeper (captains) to assist -Foster, Read, Davies -paving the way for Buttler next year. We have to build for the future NOW, the first part has been done with the young batting guns doing well. Now the future captain must be decided upon.

Posted by landl47 on (July 22, 2014, 5:12 GMT)

There's a lot of muddled thinking here. Cook's problems are real, but the young players who have come into the side have done well. There's no shortage of talent in England and players like Jordan, Woakes, Taylor, Vince, Buttler, Lees, Riley, Topley and several others are all fine prospects and all 25 or under.

Even this Summer, although England has lost 2 and drawn 2 of the 4 tests played, they have actually had first innings lead in all 4 games.

Cook is no worse as a captain than Ricky Ponting. The difference is Ponting had Hayden, Langer Martin, Clarke, Gilchrist and most importantly Warne and McGrath in his side. When they were gone, Ponting's record sank like a stone. This is a young England team and it's going to take a while for them to mature, but look at how well the young players are doing and you can see that they'll be a force in a couple of years.

Whether Cook will be around to see it is another matter. If he doesn't get his batting sorted out, he won't.

Posted by   on (July 21, 2014, 22:42 GMT)

Sorry Venkat, but your statement "I am sure he is just one 50 away from regaining form. " is a little optimistic. Going on current form that will take him to the end of the current series to get a total of 50.

Posted by surfatwork on (July 21, 2014, 21:48 GMT)

@eggyroe: I presume that your suggestion to replace Dhoni with a "better" captain is to ensure that England lose by a bigger margin? It hardly matters whether the Indian team is going to set anything on fire - the point is that they outplayed England, at home, on a pitch specially prepared to aid the English quicks. The English batting was comical and the bowling was woeful. A good captain marshals his resources and aligns their game to his plan for the match - as Dhoni is reported to have done with Ishant today. Either Cook didnt do that, or if he did, nobody listened to him, or if they did and played like they did, then they were given the wrong advice. Either way, the time is to reflect on what is wrong with England, rather than looking at what is wrong with India. If you remember, India won today.

Posted by   on (July 21, 2014, 21:46 GMT)

Since the winless tour to Australia "desperate" has been Mr. Cooks mantra. I'm sure Clark, Chappelli, Brearly and another other inspiring leader would never use such an ugly term. Shouldn't your mindset be Determined or the likes Mr. Cook? His egoist self image of a never say die attitude might satisfy his sickened mind but his selfish motivation precludes what's good for the nations supposed NEW era, surely it's starts with new leadership.

Posted by northumbriannomad on (July 21, 2014, 21:32 GMT)

@Syed Wahiduzzaman - I wouldn't be too sure, I think to be on the safe side they should schedule Bhutan and Surinam, from the ICC League Division Eight.

It's all very well this "I'm not a quitter" stuff but it would actually be more admirable if he accepted that things are not right and it's time to go. All the big decisions made in English cricket over the past 12 months have been disastrous and the climate is not right. He's certainly not getting the best out of his players, the Anderson fracas with Jadeja should not have happened and would not with a stronger captain. Unfortunately Moores, Whitaker and Downton, all of whom are equally useless corporate non-entities, are unlikely to resign en masse, but at least Cook would be a start. Eoin Morgan would bring the right determination, guts and imagination to the captaincy, and he can improve as a Test batsman.

Posted by whoster on (July 21, 2014, 21:09 GMT)

Anyone who's watched England over the past 4-5 years knows what a terrific keeper/batsmen Prior has been, but it's time for him to go. For a start, he's blatantly not 100% fit, and selecting him for this game in the first place was stupid. As a batsman, he is constantly in trouble against the short ball - it's one thing to struggle against the pace of Johnson, quite another to be (twice) bounced-out by Sri Lankan seamers on docile pitches.

There is only one argument for keeping Prior in the side - and that's what he's done in the past. The selectors may use the excuse that Jos Buttler's keeping isn't up to Test standard, but was Prior's when he was first selected? No, like Alec Stewart a generation earlier, he learnt on the job and turned himself into a fine keeper.

Prior shouldn't even be considered for Southampton. Whether it be Buttler, or a more specialist gloveman such as Read or Davies, would any of them be more of a liability than Prior is at the moment?

Posted by kumarcoolbuddy on (July 21, 2014, 20:16 GMT)

@eggyroe, current Indian side is young and inexperienced team so we don't yet if it can challenge the world as of now. But I would say Indian side is far better than ENG after 2011. If you remember 2011 ENG beat poor, injured Indian side and jumped to No.1 ranking. Even when ENG came to India later India was over bit confident and played carelessly. Frankly ENG actually never deserved that No.1 and it is being proved after losing to SA, AUS, SL etc consecutiely.

Posted by stumpedlloyd on (July 21, 2014, 19:48 GMT)

Sadly, I think us fans and commentators are the only one who are clamoring for change in this English side, from the leadership to the wicket-keeper to the need for some quality batsmen. I believe the selectors and Cook firmly believe one good performance down the road is all they need to silence the critics and everything will be tickety-boo. Cook backs Prior, Prior backs Cook, the selectors back Cook, Moores backs everyone. Never mind *both* Sri Lanka and India have shown up England in seam bowling! It might be time for English cricket not to build a team around Cook, Bell and Prior, but instead around Root and Ballance. Surely, there must be changes for the Rose Bowl, including Prior and Stokes (who is woefully out of form) getting axed for Foster/Buttler and Jordan. They should drop Cook, but they won't. Graeme Smith was 22 when he was named SA skipper. Perhaps England should name someone young. Or make a maverick move: Eoin Morgan. It couldn't any worse than what Cook's doing.

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