England v India, 4th ODI, Edgbaston September 2, 2014

Cook accepts World Cup chances 'a bit far fetched'


Alastair Cook has admitted the idea England can win the World Cup is "a bit far fetched" but insisted he has no plans to step down as England's ODI captain. England were thrashed by nine-wickets by India at Edgbaston with almost 20-overs remaining, sealing a 3-0 series result with one match to come.

It meant England had lost their last five ODIs in succession and five series out of six. The single series victory, in the Caribbean, came when Cook was not in the team.

With a maximum of 13 matches to go ahead of the World Cup, England are running out of time to find a viable plan to render them competitive - a view now officially sanctioned by a captain who has virtually written them off.

But while Cook, who has now not reached 80 in an ODI in 38 innings and 26 months, admitted to some doubts about his own form, he remains convinced that England's strategy remains correct and that he can play a part in turning around the disappointing run of results.

"I've captained for three-and-a-half years with the goal to try to win the World Cup in Australia," Cook said. "I know that seems a bit far-fetched at the moment but there's a lot of really good players in that changing room and if we can improve at the rate we need to improve we've got a chance. That's what we have to believe.

Any team that improves at the rate it needs to would, by definition, automatically become champions.

Cook insisted that his doubts about his own performance were ever present. "You always have those doubts and I've had those doubts for 80 games and 100 Test matches. You always are trying to prove that you're good enough and trying to contribute runs for an England win. That's the ultimate aim as a batter and at international cricket you're tested every single day, There's always doubts, that doesn't change.

He insisted that he had no plans to quit. "At this precise moment in time, no. I don't have a say on selection, but if I'm allowed to be, yes, I'll be at the World Cup. If not, then I have to take that on the chin. I hope not, but if it is, it is.

"I believe at the top of the order that, if I bat for 40-odd overs, I will score enough runs at a good rate. That's what I have done when I've been batting well."

The reference to 40-odd overs suggested that Cook was putting his own emphasis on an ability virtually to bat through the innings, which sounded dangerously close to all or nothing.

While Cook admitted the poor run of results had done nothing for the confidence in the dressing room, he suggested it was more due to poor execution of skills than poor tactics.

"Maybe for a few of these guys, it is the first time that we've lost as badly as this," Cook said. "It is a true test of character for the whole team, really.

"We don't quite know our best 11 at the moment because the results are showing we're not performing. When that happens you always start to doubt. That's the position we're in at the moment. We've got six months of one-day cricket to try and put that right.

"I don't think our strategy does need to change. I just think we need to do it better. The first two games we got really good starts off the first 10 overs and the problem is none of us have gone on.

"It's been our lack of execution of fairly basic skills at the moment with our batting. As a one-day batter, you need to be able to score at a good rate, at certain times take low-risk shots for a while but have the option of putting the pressure back on the opposition but also staying in. Unfortunately, we're not doing that.

"But it's amazing how quickly you can turn around. We've got to stay true to our beliefs as a team and actually the belief you have as a player because when you lose games of cricket people chip away at you and you start doubting the reason why you probably got selected in the first place."

While some have claimed that England are suffering in the shorter formats partly because their priority has often appeared to be Test cricket - this season is the first in which domestic cricket has been played over 50 overs for many years and in the past key players have been rested from limited-overs sides with a view to keeping them fresh for the Test side - Cook dismissed the theory.

"You only have to look at the dressing-room now to see whether it matters or not," Cook said. "We're brought up in a country where Test cricket has huge importance. But just because you put huge importance on Test cricket doesn't mean one-day cricket doesn't count.

"We've got a World Cup in six months. That's our big focus now. There is no Test cricket for six months, so it is very important."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • SujeeKl on September 4, 2014, 6:42 GMT

    I'm talking to Hales.. dear Hales take this game little series and show your fire power. . Change the attitude of all other players and fans. . Because you already a hero for fans who love exciting cricket. . Even you fail you can come hard at next game so just hit harder and stay longer to renew some records. . Good luck and wish team management will give him licence for that

  • John on September 4, 2014, 3:48 GMT

    @xtrafagarx: that's fine and I agree with it, providing first you are winning games now and second you are prepared to live through a down period while the young players you haven't introduced because the older ones were hanging on finally get to play.

    England weren't winning with the older players; Strauss and Swann retired, Trott and Prior weren't fit to play and KP was dysfunctional, so the change in the test side was necessary. That change is working, despite the side being very young.

    The present Aussie side won the Ashes, but has 6 players older than England's oldest player in the current test side. Aus has one player aged 25 or under to England's 6 (8 in the 13-man squad). What happens when the older players go? England's present becomes Australia's future.

    In ODIs I believe the problem is not so much the players as the strategy. England hasn't moved with the times. They need to face up to the fact that a new strategy is needed. Cook is still in the past, so he must go.

  • Irving on September 4, 2014, 2:37 GMT

    Alastair Cook should stand down from captaincy immediately. He might not realize that his comment would disqualify him from leading a team in any profession, including professional sport. No team wants to hear this from their leader.

    There is no way out of his statement - either he believes that:

    (1) he cannot lead whatever team is playing to victory, or,

    (2) no team given to him will be able to offer healthy competition, regardless of his own input, or,

    (3) regardless of the team that plays, there is no one in the English system who can deliver better results as a captain than himself

    This is hubris on every level.

    With some help from India, Cook recently dodged a bullet as far as test captaincy is concerned. It seems as though he has not learned anything from that experience.

  • John on September 3, 2014, 22:06 GMT

    OK, here's a side picked for the World Cup based on present form and capability, bearing in mind that the WC will be played in Australia not in England or Sri Lanka.

    Roy, Hales, Taylor, Root, Bopara, Buttler, Ali, Rashid, Woakes, Broad, Anderson.

    There are 6 bowlers- three seamers, a medium-pacer, two spinners- plus Root's occasional offspin. All the batsmen are capable of scoring very fast and the side bats down to #10. Taylor and Root can consolidate if the openers go quickly. It's an outstanding fielding side. Taylor would be captain.

    For those who don't know Rashid, he's a leggie who also bats. His stats in List-A this year are 25 wickets @18, with an economy rate pf 4.81. He's still only 26 and is having by far his best year as a bowler- just got 8-194 in the county championship win over Durham, plus 159*.

    That side would have a much better chance in Australia than the present side.

  • Prasanna on September 3, 2014, 20:27 GMT

    @Satzcrazy1 , i am not a SriLankan , to begin with, far from it. My team is playing elsewhere and locked in a battle with SA. I root for the team that has won several test series for fun , won 4 WCs including 3 in a row and what not . Go figure who that is !! SL won a WC but they couldnt earn the respect as much as Aus, Eng or SA as they haven't done well outside the subcontinent in tests. And exactly the same applies to your nation as well !! It is not our style to remain in stone-age, something that your board and by extension your team has fondly done time and again !! We have moved on !! Time for you and the alike to do so !!!

  • ESPN on September 3, 2014, 17:38 GMT

    The story of the summer epitomises both English and Indian cricket. India approach the test game with a one day cricket mentality and England approach the ODI's with a test mentality. Hence two ridiculously one sided series sandwiching a complete reversal in 'fortune'.

  • Ray on September 3, 2014, 17:04 GMT

    Memo to the ECB, Messrs Moores and Cook: Don't take any notice of any negative posts. I am about to close my eyes and wish really, really hard that England win the next WC, so there's no doubt that everything will turn out just fine. No need to thank me.

  • Bhaskar on September 3, 2014, 15:03 GMT

    If you see other teams & England players you can see what the priorities for the English are. Micheal Clarke played 105 tests & around 240 ODIs, Dhoni 85 tests & around 250 ODIs, Alistair Cook 100 odd tests + 80 odd ODIs. No other cricket team has a 100 tests veteran playing lesser number of ODIs. This shows England do not have interest in playing ODIs, Only when the world cup is nearing they focus on World Cup. This flawed policy will at the most bring England to make the numbers in Super six stage or semi finals only. England will miss KP & that is for sure.

  • James on September 3, 2014, 13:12 GMT

    @Fiaschetto: Couldn't have said it better myself. England are so obsessed with this 'new era' talk, both in Tests and Limited overs forms that they have lost all sense of direction in the present, because all they are thinking about is the future. What about now? They are picking emerging talent rather than the guys who are good enough to win games at the moment.

    I've said this before and i will say it again, if you pick teams for the future you will only ever win in the future.

  • Nick on September 3, 2014, 12:04 GMT

    To my mind, England's problem has been muddled priorities - they can't make up their mind whether their first priority is to select a team with the best chance to win the match or to select a team for the assessment of emerging talent. The result, they fudge selection to try and get a bit of both and end up achieving neither. The way English wickets are playing this summer, it's madness to go in with less than two front line spinners, yet when they wanted to take a look at Moeen, it was Tredwell, the best player from the previous game, who got dropped because 'they knew what he brings to the table.' If that's so, then why on Earth is Anderson playing? And if the answer is that winning is more important than assessing new talent, then why wasn't our best player, Bopara, even in the squad!?

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