England v India, 2nd Investec Test, Lord's, 5th day July 21, 2014

Three Tests to save Cook's captaincy


Play 01:43
'Not going to walk away from captaincy' - Cook

Alastair Cook admitted his position as captain will become "untenable" if he cannot arrest his slump in batting form within the next three Tests.

Cook, who described defeat to India in the second Investec Test at Lord's as among his "darkest experiences", conceded he has suffered moments of doubt over his ability as captain and, for the first time, gave an indication of the time-frame he was giving himself to turn it around.

England, under Cook's captaincy, have lost seven of their last nine Tests and have not won any of their last 10. Cook has failed to score a century in more than a year - 27 Test innings - and is averaging just 14.33 in 2014.

"I said I'd do it until my position becomes untenable," Cook said. "If I'm not scoring runs by the end of the series and we're losing more games it becomes tougher and tougher. Clearly I'm not the man to turn it around.

"Everyone has doubts. When things aren't going well, of course you have your doubts. When I was made England captain I said to my wife that I was going to give it my all. If it's not meant to be it's not meant to be, but I want to be proud of the way I have gone about it.

"I believe the team needs me to lead them through this tough time. But if it gets to the stage where I am not scoring runs by the end of the series my position is untenable. To quit now in the middle of the series would be wrong. I'm not quitting at the moment.

"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."

For the first time, Cook also had some veiled criticism for his players. Accepting that his bowlers had squandered helpful conditions on the first day and his batsmen decent batting conditions on the second.

"We've got to have lads who are prepared to front up," he said. "I'm fronting up. I hope the lads in the dressing room will as well.

"A captain is only as good as the players who play. I've captained well at certain times. I've captained well at Trent Bridge. Here it was a simple game plan and I don't think my captaincy was the reason we lost this game.

"India out-batted and out-bowled us. It was a good toss to win but we didn't put the ball in the areas we would have liked to have done. Then, with the pitch at its best, we didn't take that opportunity with the bat, either. There are no excuses.

"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."

Peter Moores, England's coach, 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."

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.

"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."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy on July 24, 2014, 23:04 GMT

    England and Cook have their thought processes backwards if they believe any of this. The measure of Cook's captaincy is not in how many runs he makes, it is the team's demeanor and performance. It's not even necessarily about winning or losing, though given the relative strengths of Eng & Ind and the home advantage, Eng should be able to win this series. If he gets a score it won't repair an adrift, dysfunctional team culture. He needs to stop being captain now and focus on his batting to justify his place in the side.

  • Dummy on July 24, 2014, 21:55 GMT

    The English team lacks inspiration and innovation. Kevin Pietersen is not the captaincy answer but they need him in the side to score runs and challenge the status quo.

  • martin on July 23, 2014, 9:33 GMT

    People can and no doubt will continue to complain about Cook whether it's his captaincy or form, but there is one reality that won't go away. The alternative captaincy cupboard for England is bare. There's no one in the current side that stands out as an alternative. Around the counties the best options are the retired Collingwood and Trescothick. Next would probably be the WK captains Foster and Read. Oh, Prior just stepped down and they go with Butler and not these old guard WK captains, so that more or less puts that one to rest.

    I think Cook is probably here to stay through what will be a difficult rebuilding and probably losing process until a new side fully emerges. That's what tends to happen to teams that are rebuilding with lots of new faces and chopping and changing, they lose more than win.

    I've yet to see one decent alternative name for captain who looks like he would make a real difference let alone whether he'd be good enough to hold down a position as player.

  • Suraj on July 23, 2014, 8:56 GMT

    Cook needs to learn to let go off things. Shane Warne has time and again repeated the same thing that his style of Captaincy has become STALE. I believe Root should be given the Captaincy since he is young, fearless & has fresh ideas on the field but Cook just doesn't seem to be the one who can do things OUT OF THE BOX which is the need of the hour. Cook is a FANTASTIC Batsman therz no doubt about it but he is very very negative as a Captain. Yes the selectors have given him 3 matches to prove which will put more and immense pressure on his batting as well as Captaincy than what it was before the Lords Test and he really should come out and say I am stepping down as Captain at the end of this series. MSD got a long backing because of his Guru N Srinivasan and I still don't think he is a good Test Captain nor player but everyone can't be as lucky as MS! England's poor form as well has led to their downfall & not any extraordinary Captaincy from MS Dhoni! A lot to think for Cook!!!

  • Tahir on July 23, 2014, 4:18 GMT

    English selectors should take it positively. If they will not rotate players now then when they will have a chance. No doubt they have a tough call as most of the players have a reason to be in English side. Almost, all of them have some latest performance and past records to guarantee their selection. Yes, they rotated a bit by including inform stokes but it did not work at the test level. As far as captain is concerned, a captain is as good as his team and cook lost few of them as a result of some internal differences. No team has been able to cope with such situations well and have suffered. All youngsters are not able to fill the boots and captains feel the brunt.

  • Dummy4 on July 23, 2014, 4:05 GMT

    i think cook is one of best player of the world cricket it is better to continue his captaincy for England team i think in the present time he is in underpass but i hope he will quickly recover his batting

  • Tahir on July 23, 2014, 1:59 GMT

    It is just the matter of ego that England and India are persisting with their elevens. It is a fact that both of them are 4th and 5th ranked teams and there are reasons for that. One of them being the over rated and under performing players. I am sure failing players from both sides will not be able to recover and we, the fans will keep watching sub standard cricket. I don't know how long we have to enjoy tail ender fifties.

  • Android on July 23, 2014, 0:33 GMT

    Agreed that the Ashes rout & defeats agnst SL & India hv made Cook's captaincy jaded and it's also taking a tool on his batting. He's a far better player than what his figures for this year suggest. Its pretty much the same condition that MSD was in after the routs in England and Oz in 2011. And a loss to England at home made matters worse. But there was never a doubt over his ability both as a batsman, 'keeper or captain, which he showed by silencing his critics with the whitewash of Australia last year, followed by the CT triumph in England. I know there is no place for mediocrity in this cut throat competition world and that Cook is not in his elements this year, but I feel the management shud give him some more time to nurture this young side and get the best out of them

  • Dummy4 on July 22, 2014, 16:38 GMT

    Can Cook do a semi-Prior? Not quitting the team; but quitting the captaincy! Just stepping down to be a batsman under some other captain.

    I would make Jimmy Anderson, the captain for the next three. Some fans posted that it will be too much of a burden for a pace bowler. They are forgetting, guys like Imran & Kapil handled captaincy with aplomb and success. In fact they were three-in-one: captains, fast bowlers, and damn good batsmen too. Inspirational to boot (It is only on that dimension, I am not so sure about Jimmy). I had doubts about his batting talents. But who am I to question the great men who chose him as the "Batsman Of the Match" after the first test! His MoM was really a BoM at Trent Bridge.

  • Don on July 22, 2014, 16:37 GMT

    Well lets hope he doesn't make a few in the last test & hang on, he is just not the right captain for England, in fact he is not the right captain for any cricket team, let him have a break get back in to form & return as a batter. While I am at it Moores should go too, about as much use as a chocolate fireguard, let's face it to be chosen for a job & the best thing on your CV is you already made a hash of it before, I am sure we have better.

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