Eng v NZ, 2nd Investec Test, Headingley, 5th day May 28, 2013

Cook, Flower claim tactics 'vindicated'

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Alastair Cook and Andy Flower insisted their tactics had been "vindicated" after England won the second Test against New Zealand by 247 runs to clinch a 2-0 series victory.

While Cook admitted he endured some nervous moments waiting for the rain to clear, he also defended his decision not to enforce the follow-on and to delay his declaration until after lunch on day four. By then England had a lead of 467 and meteorologists were warning that the fifth day could be severely curtailed by rain.

So it proved, too, with only 45 minutes possible before lunch and play not resuming until 3pm. But it was long enough for England to claim the final four wickets they required to secure victory.

"The result definitely vindicates the decision," Cook said. "There is absolutely no doubt about that at all. To win by 250 runs is a good win and in just over three days cricket effectively, it is an outstanding performance. You are judged as a captain on results. In this game we have won by 250 runs.

"I would not say it was a sleepless night but we were praying for an opportunity to get enough time to go out there and win the game. Clearly, I woke up this morning and the first thing I did was look out the window. We knew rain was about but we thought there would be a few windows of opportunity."

While there was much to celebrate for England - the form and fitness of Graeme Swann, the hostility of Steven Finn and the batting of Joe Root and Cook - one or two areas of concern remain.

The form of Nick Compton, 39 runs in four innings this series, was a disappointment and debate over his position will continue. With Kevin Pietersen back in training and likely to return to the middle order for the Ashes, moving Root to open is one option that is sure to be discussed in the coming weeks.

Neither Cook nor Flower would commit to Compton's selection for the Ashes, but Cook did admit that changing such "an important position" ahead of such high-profile games would constitute "a risk".

"He's struggled in these few Tests, certainly," Flower added. "The Ashes is quite a long way away. Let's allow the dust to settle on this series. Then we'll chat about the line-up and the conditions and the opposition.

"He's got to go away, get back into form and score some heavy runs for Somerset. He goes back into a couple of one-day games. Hopefully the one-day games will be good for him. He can go out and enjoy hitting the ball. That will be the catalyst for him going into the first-class game feeling confident."

"He's been really dedicated and disciplined in his rehabilitation and he seems in better physical condition than he has been for a while"
Andy Flower on Graeme Swann

Flower, in particular, appeared to take exception to the line of questioning from some media following the game. Talking to the BBC, he said: "I thought it was a very good performance by our side. We won by over 200 runs. Cook scored another hundred. He has 25 Test hundreds; more than Viv Richards or Greg Chappell. Swann is back in form and his elbow has come through surgery recently. The two young Yorkshire guys have had a great game. Finn on a flat deck has bowled outstandingly well. Those are all things that I'd prefer to focus on than some of the negative things you mention."

But both Cook and Flower admitted there were some areas where England could have performed a little better. While Cook referred to criticism of Trott's sedate progress on the third evening, 11 in 69 balls despite England beginning their second innings with a lead of 180, as "nit-picking", Flower accepted that "he could have been more urgent".

"We had a great example of running between the wickets and the right sort of balance between defence and attack and urgency from the two young Yorkshire guys in the first innings," Flower said. "They batted beautifully. Trott could have learned a little from those two. But the following morning he put us in a great position to win the game."

Flower and Cook justified the decision not to enforce the follow-on, believing the wicket would only deteriorate as the match progressed. "We chose to bat again and get well ahead of them," Flower agreed. "We thought we would have enough time on a wearing pitch to take the last 10 wickets and that's how it proved."

The start of the final day was noticeable for Flower remonstrating with the groundstaff to remove the covers more quickly.

"I shouldn't be out there doing the officials' job," Flower said. "It wasn't raining so I'm not sure why the covers weren't being removed. I don't understand why it took so long to get the game started, regardless of the position that we were in. The officials have a responsibility to get the game going when conditions suit and it wasn't raining. The lack of activity was baffling."

But in general, Flower was in the mood to celebrate the encouraging performances of Swann and the two young local batsmen, Root and Jonny Bairstow.

"Swann bowled superbly in the first innings; the ball came out of his hand absolutely beautifully," Flower said. "I didn't actually think he bowled as well in the second innings. I don't think he was quite comfortable with the ball. But he still took 6 for 90 and turned the match our way. I'm very encouraged by the way he's bowling and very happy for him that his elbow has come through surgery as well as it has. He's been really dedicated and disciplined in the way he's rehabilitated his elbow and he seems in better physical condition than he has been for a while.

"Root looks an excellent cricketer. His decision making in the middle; his balance has been excellent so far. It was great to see him get a hundred on his home ground and it was nice to see the enthusiasm and passion the Yorkshire supporters showed Joe.

"It was also great to see Bairstow bat with him. I know how happy Jonny was for Joe to get that 100, which was really nice to see. They are both good young men. Very different characters. But hopefully they will both have very successful England careers."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • darrenh on May 29, 2013, 20:22 GMT

    When Cook declined to enforce the follow-on he said he wanted to bat again as it was a good batting pitch (he scored a century) and he wanted it to scuff up for Swann (6 2nd inns wickets). I'm sure the England were in possession of very accurate info on the weather and he used this knowledge to keep NZ in the field as long as possible. If England fans feel frustrated by his late declaration imagine how the NZ team felt. He admitted when interviewed after the game is was a closer than he would have liked (timewise). I'm sure he thought a lead of 350+ would be enough but kept NZ in the field long enough to remove any hope they had of winning the match - exhausting both mind and body. He held his nerve longer than any of the fans on this site would have dared yet some call him cowardly. If the follw-on had been enforced I doubt NZ would have made enough runs to draw the game but who knows? Cook's tactics for this game game were spot on

  • jmcilhinney on May 29, 2013, 0:26 GMT

    OK, if I decide to cross a freeway and I get to the other side without being hit by a car, does that vindicate my decision? The fact that I made it across does not mean that it wasn't a stupid decision in the first place. England won by 247 here. Does that not then vindicate the position of those who have been saying that Cook should have declared earlier? England only lost 5 wickets in their second innings. Does that not vindicate the position of those who have been saying that Trott should have batted with more urgency on day 3? The fact that England won does not mean that the tactics employed were the best they could be and it doesn't mean that similar tactics won't ever lead to England drawing a game that they should have won.

  • SirViv1973 on May 28, 2013, 21:28 GMT

    I didn't have a major problem with not enforcing the follow but Trott really should have got on with it on Sun evening. However the worst thing was the delayed declaration on Mon. At lunch the lead was 429, 11 more than the world record & more than double what NZL had managed in an inns in the series thus far, there really was no logical reason to bat on past lunch & if the game would have ended at 12.40 today with NZL 8 down there would have been some very red faces in the Eng camp. However credit where credit is due we got the job done & the team looks in good shape with the ashes only weeks away. The big question marks over the team were with the bowlers after the series in NZL& they have all been answered emphatically, all have taken wickets with ave's between 15 & 20! The only sticky points are KP's fitness & who should open, Hopefully KP will prove his fitness & NC will have some FC games to try & find his form again, I like JR at 5 & i'm still not convinced JB is ready.

  • TenDonebyaShooter on May 31, 2013, 18:53 GMT

    @SirViv1973: I stand by the point that in terms of general relative quality, the bowling attacks faced in test cricket on the one hand by Cook and Flintoff, and on the other by Richards, Chapple, Flower and Atherton, form a stark contrast. In the light of this comparison, Cook might as well be making his runs against a bowling attack comprised of Neil Wagner, Bruce Wagner, Robert Wagner and Richard Wagner. If one considered the matter sincerely, on a hart-to-hart basis, whereas Cook's propensity to ring up runs seems as predictable as the turning of a cycle, in the days when fearsome fast bowlers like Lillee, Marshall and Ambrose tore in against none-too-competent tailenders, it often seemed to be a case of "Kill the rabbit, Kill the rabbit ...", or at least an imminent collapse of a nature apocalyptic, now.

  • igorolman on May 30, 2013, 17:36 GMT

    No problems with not enforcing the follow-on, I would have but it's a judgement call. However, yes Trott plodded even by his standards on day 3 and I'd have pulled out about half an hour before lunch on day 4 (and if Trott had batted even normally that would already have been more than the world record 418) and had 4 or 5 overs at a trembling Kiwi batting order. I appreciate you don't play based on the forecast - and they would have been crucified for declaring at 350 ahead and then watching horror-stricken as NZ got the runs on a dry day 5 - but you have to take it into consideration and it looked like Cook and Flower were assuming the rain would stay off.

    And Flower is spot on about one thing: he shouldn't be doing the officials' job. I hope he got a rap on the knuckles or a traditional Yorkshire greeting for that.

  • on May 30, 2013, 16:47 GMT

    NZ should be playing the mid ranked teams a lot more - Sri Lanka, West Indies, India, Australia and the like.

  • SirViv1973 on May 30, 2013, 11:40 GMT

    @mustakin Shuvo, and all the other posters saying NZL should play more against Bang & Zim. No they shouldn't! the last time they played Zim they bowled them out twice in one day! and Bang recently lost a test to the same Zim team. How are NZL going to improve playing regularly against teams who are inferior in pretty much every department? If you look at this as a 5 match series NZL we competitive right up until the 4th day of the 4th Test, until Eng's extra quality was just too much for them. They were only beaten 1 nil at home against SAF last year and a few months before that drew in Aus. Yes their batting is an issue at the moment but they will improve if they are regularly playing against the better teams. I would be interested to see how a similar 5 match series (2 in oz 3 in NZL) would go.

  • jmcilhinney on May 30, 2013, 10:20 GMT

    I've banged on about Cook's tactics in this game because I feel very strongly about it but, as I've said before, England did play well and deserved their victory. Most boxes appear to be ticked at the moment, although you'd hope and expect Australia to provide a sterner test all around than NZ, who just couldn't maintain the intensity they managed at home. Compton is obviously the biggest question mark at the moment and it will be interesting to see which way the selectors go. People are talking about not putting extra pressure on Root by asking him to open but, seriously, the guy is an opening batsmen by trade. How many openers actually start out playing for their country in the middle order? Some, but very few. Why do we think that Root needs coddling more than others, especially when his performance seems to suggest that he needs it less. I guess there's fear his very good run may come to an end but we should have some faith... if Compton doesn't shape up.

  • jmcilhinney on May 30, 2013, 0:09 GMT

    @RandyUK on (May 29, 2013, 13:03 GMT), fortunately, we won't have to rely on captaincy to be the deciding factor in our upcoming wins over Australia.

  • jmcilhinney on May 30, 2013, 0:07 GMT

    @Vishnu27 on (May 29, 2013, 15:40 GMT), presumably the reference is to the ODI series played in England, not an Ashes Test series.

  • darrenh on May 29, 2013, 20:22 GMT

    When Cook declined to enforce the follow-on he said he wanted to bat again as it was a good batting pitch (he scored a century) and he wanted it to scuff up for Swann (6 2nd inns wickets). I'm sure the England were in possession of very accurate info on the weather and he used this knowledge to keep NZ in the field as long as possible. If England fans feel frustrated by his late declaration imagine how the NZ team felt. He admitted when interviewed after the game is was a closer than he would have liked (timewise). I'm sure he thought a lead of 350+ would be enough but kept NZ in the field long enough to remove any hope they had of winning the match - exhausting both mind and body. He held his nerve longer than any of the fans on this site would have dared yet some call him cowardly. If the follw-on had been enforced I doubt NZ would have made enough runs to draw the game but who knows? Cook's tactics for this game game were spot on

  • jmcilhinney on May 29, 2013, 0:26 GMT

    OK, if I decide to cross a freeway and I get to the other side without being hit by a car, does that vindicate my decision? The fact that I made it across does not mean that it wasn't a stupid decision in the first place. England won by 247 here. Does that not then vindicate the position of those who have been saying that Cook should have declared earlier? England only lost 5 wickets in their second innings. Does that not vindicate the position of those who have been saying that Trott should have batted with more urgency on day 3? The fact that England won does not mean that the tactics employed were the best they could be and it doesn't mean that similar tactics won't ever lead to England drawing a game that they should have won.

  • SirViv1973 on May 28, 2013, 21:28 GMT

    I didn't have a major problem with not enforcing the follow but Trott really should have got on with it on Sun evening. However the worst thing was the delayed declaration on Mon. At lunch the lead was 429, 11 more than the world record & more than double what NZL had managed in an inns in the series thus far, there really was no logical reason to bat on past lunch & if the game would have ended at 12.40 today with NZL 8 down there would have been some very red faces in the Eng camp. However credit where credit is due we got the job done & the team looks in good shape with the ashes only weeks away. The big question marks over the team were with the bowlers after the series in NZL& they have all been answered emphatically, all have taken wickets with ave's between 15 & 20! The only sticky points are KP's fitness & who should open, Hopefully KP will prove his fitness & NC will have some FC games to try & find his form again, I like JR at 5 & i'm still not convinced JB is ready.

  • TenDonebyaShooter on May 31, 2013, 18:53 GMT

    @SirViv1973: I stand by the point that in terms of general relative quality, the bowling attacks faced in test cricket on the one hand by Cook and Flintoff, and on the other by Richards, Chapple, Flower and Atherton, form a stark contrast. In the light of this comparison, Cook might as well be making his runs against a bowling attack comprised of Neil Wagner, Bruce Wagner, Robert Wagner and Richard Wagner. If one considered the matter sincerely, on a hart-to-hart basis, whereas Cook's propensity to ring up runs seems as predictable as the turning of a cycle, in the days when fearsome fast bowlers like Lillee, Marshall and Ambrose tore in against none-too-competent tailenders, it often seemed to be a case of "Kill the rabbit, Kill the rabbit ...", or at least an imminent collapse of a nature apocalyptic, now.

  • igorolman on May 30, 2013, 17:36 GMT

    No problems with not enforcing the follow-on, I would have but it's a judgement call. However, yes Trott plodded even by his standards on day 3 and I'd have pulled out about half an hour before lunch on day 4 (and if Trott had batted even normally that would already have been more than the world record 418) and had 4 or 5 overs at a trembling Kiwi batting order. I appreciate you don't play based on the forecast - and they would have been crucified for declaring at 350 ahead and then watching horror-stricken as NZ got the runs on a dry day 5 - but you have to take it into consideration and it looked like Cook and Flower were assuming the rain would stay off.

    And Flower is spot on about one thing: he shouldn't be doing the officials' job. I hope he got a rap on the knuckles or a traditional Yorkshire greeting for that.

  • on May 30, 2013, 16:47 GMT

    NZ should be playing the mid ranked teams a lot more - Sri Lanka, West Indies, India, Australia and the like.

  • SirViv1973 on May 30, 2013, 11:40 GMT

    @mustakin Shuvo, and all the other posters saying NZL should play more against Bang & Zim. No they shouldn't! the last time they played Zim they bowled them out twice in one day! and Bang recently lost a test to the same Zim team. How are NZL going to improve playing regularly against teams who are inferior in pretty much every department? If you look at this as a 5 match series NZL we competitive right up until the 4th day of the 4th Test, until Eng's extra quality was just too much for them. They were only beaten 1 nil at home against SAF last year and a few months before that drew in Aus. Yes their batting is an issue at the moment but they will improve if they are regularly playing against the better teams. I would be interested to see how a similar 5 match series (2 in oz 3 in NZL) would go.

  • jmcilhinney on May 30, 2013, 10:20 GMT

    I've banged on about Cook's tactics in this game because I feel very strongly about it but, as I've said before, England did play well and deserved their victory. Most boxes appear to be ticked at the moment, although you'd hope and expect Australia to provide a sterner test all around than NZ, who just couldn't maintain the intensity they managed at home. Compton is obviously the biggest question mark at the moment and it will be interesting to see which way the selectors go. People are talking about not putting extra pressure on Root by asking him to open but, seriously, the guy is an opening batsmen by trade. How many openers actually start out playing for their country in the middle order? Some, but very few. Why do we think that Root needs coddling more than others, especially when his performance seems to suggest that he needs it less. I guess there's fear his very good run may come to an end but we should have some faith... if Compton doesn't shape up.

  • jmcilhinney on May 30, 2013, 0:09 GMT

    @RandyUK on (May 29, 2013, 13:03 GMT), fortunately, we won't have to rely on captaincy to be the deciding factor in our upcoming wins over Australia.

  • jmcilhinney on May 30, 2013, 0:07 GMT

    @Vishnu27 on (May 29, 2013, 15:40 GMT), presumably the reference is to the ODI series played in England, not an Ashes Test series.

  • jmcilhinney on May 30, 2013, 0:06 GMT

    @TallHawk on (May 29, 2013, 16:00 GMT), you may be right but I feel that, if Cook & Flower were to acknowledge publicly that they may have erred then it probably would have blown over quickly, because we would assume, or at least hope, that they would endeavour not to make the same mistake again. By their saying that the result vindicates their decisions suggests to me that, in similar circumstances, they would do the same thing again in the future and, on that occasion, we may not be so lucky with the weather and the chance of a win may be washed away.

  • jmcilhinney on May 30, 2013, 0:00 GMT

    @Behice Jenkinson on (May 29, 2013, 18:34 GMT), let's be realistic. Yes, Trott is not known as a quick scorer but that early second innings was ridiculous. England were criticised somewhat for slow scoring in the first innings at Lords and there Trott was 31 after facing 69 balls. In the second innings at Lords he had 26 after 69. In the first innings here he only faced 60 balls but made 28. The second innings at Headingly was the one time where England should have specifically been looking to score quickly and yet Trott finished day 3 with 11 off 69 and looked more like he wasn't trying to score than, like Compton, wasn't able to. I'm not quite sure what Cook's think was but he seemed to slow down with Trott at the crease too. Admittedly, the bowling did improve after his early onslaught but, with wickets in hand and rain on the way, that careful approach just didn't seem justified. We don't expect Trott to be a Lamborghini but a decent family sedan would be nice.

  • jmcilhinney on May 29, 2013, 23:48 GMT

    @hhillbumper on (May 29, 2013, 18:17 GMT), if you're happy with beating the #8 ranked team at home then fair enough, but some of us aspire for the team to be able to beat anyone, anywhere.

  • on May 29, 2013, 22:13 GMT

    I think NZ should play more against bangladesh and zim. I am sure that they wont be able to beat them at their home ground.

  • EdGreen on May 29, 2013, 21:56 GMT

    Yes - Compton and Trott batted too slowly on Monday However... Did we win? Did we take needless risks with our series lead? Did we entertain?

    Are you still here?

    Its a pretty good defence - Boycott and Gavaskar combined would be hard pressed to beat it.

  • SirViv1973 on May 29, 2013, 21:47 GMT

    @MrCric.Cheat, Cook has played against plenty of better bowlers than Mitchell Johnson & Bruce Wagner is 2 different players lol!

  • SirViv1973 on May 29, 2013, 21:41 GMT

    @Behice Jenkinson, I'm not sure it would have made any sense promoting Prior to 3 in the 2nd inns. Such a move could have badly backfired & Eng could have found themselves 3 down very quickly. If Eng were intent on making an attacking move it would have made more sense to have enforced the follow on & kept all 10 second inns wickets in hand. Although Trott could have scored quicker, once the decision not to enforce the follow on had been made it was important that the top order laid a solid base for the middle order to play more expansively when they were required. The Eng regime under Flower has never been for tinkering with the batting order during a match, unless it's due to injury or to use a nightwatchman (something i'm not in favor of, but that's a debate for another day).

  • on May 29, 2013, 19:56 GMT

    @MrCric.Cheat_ I think Flower is stating that Cook getting 25 centuries is an impressive stat. Not that Cook is in the same league as those legends... Not yet anyway!

  • JG2704 on May 29, 2013, 18:45 GMT

    @VillageBlacksmith on (May 29, 2013, 10:41 GMT) Would you have been happy with Cook's captaincy had we not got any/enough play to bowl NZ out? Even you couldn't blame Bell for squandering the win if that had been the case

  • JG2704 on May 29, 2013, 18:45 GMT

    @TallHawk on (May 29, 2013, 12:09 GMT) re "England played well, really well. Totally outplayed NZ, batted, fielded and bowled really well." This is exactly why many of us have got so heated about Flower/Cook - because they risked throwing away all the good work the 2 Yorkies in the 1st inns and our bowlers. NZ vs Eng and Somerset vs Warwicks (both in the last 3 months and both shown on our TV sets) are 2 examples of teams coming undone by not enforcing the follow on and then when batting again either not batting with enough urgency or batting on too long.

  • JG2704 on May 29, 2013, 18:45 GMT

    @Jaybird CTD - Again , I have given 2 recent examples where sides have come unstuck when not forcing the follow on but have only seen 1 example posted of a side forcing the follow on and losing and that from 12 years ago in totally different conditions and with guaranteed weather. You're saying the decision is vindicated by the result. Not at all. England would almost certainly have won on Monday had they batted on so Eng won despite the decision and not because of it.

    @Jaybird67 on (May 29, 2013, 12:05 GMT) Fair response re Bell , but even on that occasion - yes he was the 2nd highest scorer in the inns but he still got out and left nearly 30 overs for Prior and the tail to negotiate

  • JG2704 on May 29, 2013, 18:44 GMT

    @Jaybird67 - Not at all - the Ashes test example proves that if Australia had batted for an hour longer Eng would have made to regret their decision to carry on batting. Judging the declaration perfectly is if you get the side all out , just before the end of play with about 50 runs to play with. England had a further 100 runs plus an inns of wickets in hand. A HUGE difference between Clarke's decision to bat again rather than enforce the follow on compared to this one is the guaranteed time playing. I've just looked at that scorecard and Australia were 332 runs ahead with 14 overs and 2 full days remaining and he declared (judging by the scorecard) lunch of day 4 leaving his bowlers 2 full sessions plus a full day guaranteed. And if you take a 332 runs 1st inns lead against a team you've just trounced in the other 3 tests you're going to win whichever way you play it.

  • on May 29, 2013, 18:34 GMT

    Lots of criticism of Trott but he always starts slow (ok Leeds 2nd innings was ultra-tortoise) then accelerates when set. If you look at his overall SR it's not bad at all. The slow scoring was a captaincy error IMO, with Eng 200 ahead they should have promoted eg Prior to #3 to push it along. Trott is who he is = a dependable rock not a Lamborghini.

  • hhillbumper on May 29, 2013, 18:17 GMT

    so tweo tests beat them handsomely and still people moan.You couldn't make it up really could you

  • TenDonebyaShooter on May 29, 2013, 18:15 GMT

    Flower's mentioning that Cook has more test hundreds than Greg Chappell and Viv Richards doesn't seem to me a very strong point. With the best will in the world, Chappell and Richards had to play test cricket against better bowlers and in more difficult conditions than Cook plays against and in, and both still averaged more than Cook. I'm put in the mind of Flintoff's unreasoning attack on Mike Atherton last year in which he compared Atherton's record adversely to Cook's, and you can make much the same point in response: Atherton had to front up to McGrath, Waqar, Wasim, Donald, Pollock, Ambrose and Walsh, while Cook gets Mitchell Johnson and Bruce Wagner. I think deep down Flower, who himself regularly averaged more than Cook against some sterner bowlers when a test batsman for Zimbabwe, knows this point full well, but it's convenient not to mention it when you are trying to spin the British media.

  • on May 29, 2013, 17:59 GMT

    Not got a single problem with not enforcing follow on. We were only 180 ahead. Not 280 which would have been very different. Supposing NZ had scraped up 300 or 350 in their second inns? A nasty little chase, and squeaky bum time? Afraid I agree with the comment about Cook's captaincy being timid. Or is it 'conservative'? OK we won, and won well with plenty of positives, but were possibly lucky to do so from the weather angle. But let's, when we've got the oppo on the ropes, turn up the pressure. We didn't and nearly screwed it up as a result.

  • GHemrajani on May 29, 2013, 17:56 GMT

    Flower is getting testy. And also wilting.... Pressure is getting to him.

  • Charlie101 on May 29, 2013, 17:52 GMT

    I really feel for Compton who played so well and fought so hard in India and New Zealand seems to have blown his test career with 4 poor performances .

  • SirViv1973 on May 29, 2013, 17:38 GMT

    @Jonathan Jono Lane, I hear you regarding Bell, I wouldn't get rid of him yet but it has been some time since he has been at his fluent best. Ideally I would like to see him drop down to 6 where he has a great record of 1485 runs at an ave of nearly 60. I say this time & time again but there has been a hole in that no6 spot since Collingwood retired & Bell went up to 5. I just think the batting has a really solid look to it with 5.Root 6.Bell 7.Prior. I also think Bell will be under a little less pressure batting down one. For me Root has made the 5 spot his own & I would be loathed to see him moved to the top of the order or dropped to 6 for that matter. I like Bairstow but I don't see a batsman quite ready yet to deliver the goods in a big ashes series. However for the Root/Bell/Prior axis to happen Compton needs to score some Fc runs & rebuild his confidence if he dosen't manage that I don't think there is much option other than to move Root to open.

  • CricketingStargazer on May 29, 2013, 16:47 GMT

    What I find interesting is Nick Compton's recent record. He has scored 3 centuries in his last 10 matches, which sounds pretty amazing. However, outside those centuries he has a single 50 and no less than 12 scores of under 20. If I recall rightly he has just a single score between 20 and 50 in that sequence.

    It looks like he is struggling to get in but, when he does, he makes a big score.

  • Shan156 on May 29, 2013, 16:38 GMT

    @RandyOZ, that 'timid' captain Strauss won Ashes both home and away, something Ricky could not accomplish. Punter is the only Aussie captain to lose 3 Ashes series, perhaps the only captain to lose 3 Ashes series.

  • TallHawk on May 29, 2013, 16:00 GMT

    I think it is widely accepted that England made a tactical error in the timing of their declaration. In their private moments Cook and Flower will have acknowledged that. But the whole point is that WAY too much media focus has been on that rather than the way England played in this Test match, which was EXCELLENT! Let's focus on that please.

  • Vishnu27 on May 29, 2013, 15:40 GMT

    @Front-Foot-Lunge: "Their 2012 whitewash of Australia surprised no one". You sure about that? A whitewash? 6 years ago there was a whitewash...

  • on May 29, 2013, 14:07 GMT

    mgp45. It became a four day game mate, therefore the follow on target was 150.

  • southstoke49 on May 29, 2013, 14:06 GMT

    Totally agree with comment posted at 11.29. Bell has rarely contributed 'meaningful' runs and NEVER been able to change the tempo of an innings. What is so impressive about Root is that given a sticky situatuion he has been able to stablise the situation and then increase the run rate accordingly. In a similar situation Bell usually pokes around for a while before getting out having contributed very little to the score. Given the scores of the series v NZ Bairstow has the lowest average but at least is an up and coming player, next lowest is Bell. When KP returns I think the batting would look far better with Root & Bairstow to remain at 5 & 6 with possibly Bell tried as an opener or Carberry given a go (unlikely) if Compton has not returned to form, however I still think he is the best option.

  • RandyOZ on May 29, 2013, 13:03 GMT

    Quite poor captaincy by Cook again, who seems to be another timid captain very much in the Strauss vein.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on May 29, 2013, 12:25 GMT

    Stats and results never tell the full story. Yes England won very convincingly in the end; but ask yourselves this: would your opinions be tarnished had the entire day been lost to rain, and the draw resulted?

    A lot of people here only comment at the end of games, and NEVER during/before them. What's more, these same posters lambast the people who do comment and discuss before and during the games.

  • on May 29, 2013, 12:22 GMT

    mgp45 as we lost the entire 1st day. The game was reduced to 4 days play. Thus the follow-on score was reduced to a lead of 150 or more, rather than the normal 200 or more runs.

  • TallHawk on May 29, 2013, 12:09 GMT

    I Don't blame Flower getting annoyed with the negativity by the media. England played well, really well. Totally outplayed NZ, batted, fielded and bowled really well. Yet everyone focused on slow batting or the delayed declaration!! Remember, this was a WARM UP for the Ashes! Flower can't say that out of respect to NZ but I can. Cook and Root got some runs, Broad and Swann got some wickets and Finn and Bairstow found some form. Main course now please...

  • Jaybird67 on May 29, 2013, 12:05 GMT

    @ Jonathan Jono Lane See that 75 in your list of Bell's recent innings? That was the one where England faced a target of 481 and 5 sessions of play to survive. The one where Bell faced 271 balls (next highest was Prior, with 182) over 6 hours. The one where England survived by the skin of their teeth to draw the series in NZ, three tests ago. It was the last time England actually needed to save a test. Prior got the plaudits because he was unbeaten at the end and scored a century (and runs in the first innings), but no-one did more to save the game than Bell.

    Of course, your standard for acceptable powers of concentration and "when most needed" may be more stringent than this, in which case I apologise unreservedly.

  • John-Price on May 29, 2013, 11:54 GMT

    There is a myth that by batting third with a large lead a side simply cannot lose. This is not so- in 2008 at Manchester, England just avoided the follow and NZ has a lead of 179 - 1 less than than England at Leeds. NZ batted third, got skittled and lost by 6 wickets. In the Leeds match, England would have won whatever they did - the infuriating thing is that their tactics seemed designed to delay the moment of victory as long as possible.

  • mgp45 on May 29, 2013, 11:31 GMT

    How is it that Cook is said "not to have enforced" the follow-on? NZ were 180 behind on First Innings. In a 5-day match they'd need to have been 200 behind. Therefore surely there was no follow-on to be enforced. What am I missing here? Are people saying he decided to let them score a few more runs and avoid the issue? I think not. If I have missed something here, I'll be happy to sit corrected.

  • on May 29, 2013, 11:29 GMT

    Everyone assumes that Root will stay in the side, and either Bairstow or Compton will give way when KP returns. What about Ian Bell? How long can a silky cover drive keep a man in the side absent substantial contributions, especially when most required? In 9 test innings v's NZ Bell has got 24, 26*, 11, 17, 75, 31, 6, 30 and 6. Bairstow got 3, 6, 41, 5, 64, 26*, whilst Compton got 0, 117, 100, 13, 2, 16, 15, 1, 7. Root got 4, 0, 10, 45, 29, 40, 71, 104, 28. It appears that Compton needs to recover his confidence, and if he does he becomes an asset (if unspectacular) at the top. Root got out to the 2nd new ball both times he had to face it, which indicates he may not be quite ready to open yet in tests. Let him bide his time in the middle order, with Bairstow. IB can spend some time with Warks learning to extend his powers of concentration beyond a hour. If Compton can't regain his mojo, then Root opens (sooner than I would have liked), and Bell gets another chance to disappoint.

  • on May 29, 2013, 11:23 GMT

    Dear all England are a good team but I'd like them to be the best. What Cook described as a fondness for being the underdog doesn't go with being Number 1. So for the Ashes and then long-term future let's keep thinking: Compton not quite good enough, Root ace in the middle order so another opener? how about Ian Bell who does it one-day and needs shaking up and still offers left-right bowler-dusturbing combo? and then you keep Root and Bairstow 5 and 6? an if KP out after all, make it Cook, Bell, Trott, Root, Bairstow, Buttler (yeeha!)? and, given stress on four-bowler attack is a long-term problem and Patel didn't work out, are they urging Root to practice that off-spin (best prospect for a fifth-bowling proper England batsman since we last had an actual all rounder, namely I Botham - given Chris Lewis and Craig White were variants on Bresnan) and longer-term are they offering hope and encouragement to Borthwick and Rashid , both pushing to become proper all rounders this season? etc?

  • cloudmess on May 29, 2013, 11:05 GMT

    Agree with SJC1000. The press stir things up, as if there is this kind of entitlement to see England trounce a supposedly weak NZ side. Yet England were one wicket away from losing a series to this same side a few months ago - so they are not so bad. Trott slightly lost his timing and NZ bowled well to him on Sunday evening - but the reason Trott has scored so many runs in the last 4 years is because he has a strong instinct to battle through such periods. England were slightly cautious with the declaration, but then the NZ batsmen took the England bowlers apart a couple of times over the winter. Mark Nicholas argued that England will never be a great side until they're more showy in their dominance. But the reason Australia of 10 years ago were so great was their attention to detail, and absolute respect for the opposition. When you respect a side, you play at your very best and don't ever give them a sniff of winning.

  • creekeetman on May 29, 2013, 11:00 GMT

    agree with those who thought that the follow on was'nt neccessary, but that the declaration was delayed to long. in fact i thought a declaration just before lunch would've been ideal, it would've given the english bowlers 3-4 overs to really have a go at nz, by then the lead was already over 400, and more than nz were ever going to manage. hope cook's tactics are more positive against oz.

  • Jaybird67 on May 29, 2013, 10:56 GMT

    @JG2704 So your Ashes example (it was at Adelaide) proves that... England judged the weather right then too.

    Last time Clarke had the option of enforcing the follow-on in a test was against India in Adelaide in January 2012. Australia scored 604/7 dec.; India responded with 272. With a lead of 332 Clarke chose to bat again, eventually setting a target of 500. India were all out for 201 on the last morning. Not so very different to the way Cook played it.

  • on May 29, 2013, 10:53 GMT

    This statistical approach to tactics, favoured by both of Andy Flower's captains creates such dull cricket because it doesn't allow for the conditions or the state of the match. Bean counting is all well and good but the beans come from a wide range of match situations not the ones pertaining in the moment. Cricket is a very complex game and this sort of simplification is strangely dumb in not allowing for circumstances. In this case, I suppose it got a few more paying fans through gate but in the long run it will keep people away.

  • VillageBlacksmith on May 29, 2013, 10:41 GMT

    wow you are a tough audience... (or hypocrites)... It was a good and convincing series win, in relative style and with time to spare... within 4 days, vs a team that have punched well above their weight for the past 3 months, Australia at home could only draw with them... and there were plenty of positives (apart from bell) but you wdnt think so judging by the mealy-mouthed comments on here... well played England...

  • Jaybird67 on May 29, 2013, 10:36 GMT

    Of course victory vindicates their tactics. Their tactics were designed to ensure an England victory and that's what happened. They judged that there would be enough play on Tuesday to allow them to win and they were right.

    Fans are always keener on enforcing the follow-on than test captains are, because no result is sexier than an innings victory; but it's actually relatively rare in tests. In fact, it's rare for test teams even to have the option.

    Since 2006, Australia have had 10 opportunities to do it, but chose to bat again on 7 of them. SA have had 8 opportunities (3 of them this year) and chose to bat again only twice, but never enforced the follow-on with a lead of less than 250. The "bat your opponent into oblivion then go at them on a deteriorating pitch" approach is pretty common, and in no way restricted to England.

  • JG2704 on May 29, 2013, 10:16 GMT

    To me , all this proves is that the weather forecast was not AS bad as was at one time predicted , coupled with the fact that Eng bowlers were so on top of a NZ batting line up devoid of confidence. Does anyone else seriously believe Eng would not have won by the end of Monday had they made NZ follow on?

    I still maintain that making a side follow on is nearly always the best policy and still after 100s of comments on these threads I have only found one example cited where a team has enforced the follow on and gone on to lose a game and that was 12 years ago and different because there was 5 full days play guaranteed and the pitch cracking up (in SC conditions) on day 5 was also pretty much guaranteed. So I'd like some more evidence of such cases before I even consider Cook being right to do what he did.

  • Captainman on May 29, 2013, 10:10 GMT

    Cricket is an unpopular sport, how many countries play Test Cricket exactly? :)

  • JG2704 on May 29, 2013, 10:04 GMT

    @jmcilhinney- Like your crossing the freeway analogy.Re Eng's (over) caution- something similar happening (not re following on) in the last Ashes - think it was 2nd test when we batted on too long before declaringWe had an unnecessarily large 370 run lead plus a full inns in hand. Aus finished 4 down with 2 form batsmen Hussey/North at the crease at end of day 4. Eng bowled Aus out in the morning but I believe at dinner time it rained heavily and had we not finished them off in the morning we'd have drawn the match. I think the series was 0-0 at the time too , so I wonder how deflating that draw might have been. I'm worried that in an evenly matched series (and the Ashes could be more evenly matched than many predict) , if we let such moments pass we'll be made to pay for them. Aus had a woeful tour in India but up til then showed good form and Clarke is a ruthless capt and I think Eng conditions , they have a good pace attack and I believe Rodgers may add stability to batting

  • Nutcutlet on May 29, 2013, 9:52 GMT

    No matter what's been said, I maintain that the decision not to follow on with uncertain weather around was all about the Ashes. First, it would give the batsmen another outing (and Compton's opening position V Oz is really a major issue, with KP beginning to hit balls again) & secondly, England's bowlers could get a rest. This was a case of managing the players first & winning the match second. To make my point clearer, let's suppose that this was an Ashes' deciding Test & the weather was again an issue, does anyone really think that Cook would be saying to his bowlers, 'You can have a breather now.' No, he'd say, 'One last big effort, boys! Give me your all! Leave nothing on the field!' This was not an occasion when finding & tapping the reserve tank was required. Thrashing, as opposed to beating, NZ is just not in the same league, is it?

  • JG2704 on May 29, 2013, 9:44 GMT

    @John-Price (, 20:48 GMT) I'd agree that Cook's tactics were horrible but I'd say he overcomplicated things rather than acted like a simpleton.

    @crickketlover ( 23:23 GMT) For me , I don't like to see England get into what I see as negfative/bad habbits for more important tests/series. That's what the fuss is about from my POV

    @Mavia1986 (, 0:27 GMT) This couch critic said same about BM in NZ and Tres for Somerset in Eng in last 3 months and was proved correct (unfortunately as a Somerset fan in the latter) in each case.Was there a realistic chance that NZ would set Eng an uncomfortable chase baring in mind their batting form on this tour - compared to the chances of rain truncating the final day? If Cook had declared and Eng had gone on to lose the game I'd have (in order) lambasted our batsmen and given NZ credit but 100% assure you I would not for one moment have even considered Cook's move to enforce the follow on as a bad one.

  • liz1558 on May 29, 2013, 9:09 GMT

    Michael Vaughan was right on this issue - Cook was right to bat again - it was the go -slow batting of Trott on Sunday evening that was the problem. If he had scored 50/60 runs, then England would've been able to declare 30 minutes before lunch. I don't understand why Cook didn't just say that Trott couldn't find his timing/struggling for form/happens to everyone etc, because that was the truth. Cook was going by very tight deadlines and they ended up an hour behind schedule. It doesn't help to have prickly relations with the media - acknowledging Trott's obvious culpability without making him a scapegoat would've been better than pretending nothing went wrong with the plan.

  • AshesErnie on May 29, 2013, 8:59 GMT

    Isn't one of the first rules of captaincy to do what your opponent would LEAST want? In this case enforce the follow on and wrap up an innings victory long before the rain came. McCullum will have been mighty relieved when Cook & Flower showed how spineless they can be at times when they should be ruthless, a trait that appears occasionally since Flower took over in WI 2009 and created draws from two probable wins. They got away with it this time, but M Clarke and the Aussies will work out that if they can survive four days, England will waste another day with cowardly tactics and let them off the hook. Very poor show.

  • SJC1000 on May 29, 2013, 7:30 GMT

    Out of interest, are the press that are having a pop at England the same press that were complaining that they were too complacent in New Zealand? Over there, all you heard was how England werent taking New Zealand seriously enough and that they had underestimated how good they were. Now, over here, England are suddenly being too careful in making sure that the game is safe (a game, incidently, that they didnt actually need to win but would have wanted to make sure they didnt lose)?

    They probably could have declared at lunch yesterday. So what? They have just beaten a side that everyone had agreed was actually quite good a few weeks ago in 3 and a bit days.

  • jmcilhinney on May 29, 2013, 7:20 GMT

    @John-Price on (May 28, 2013, 20:48 GMT), that's an egregious exaggeration. My issue is that the whole England setup is too intractable. Strauss was, Flower is and Cook appears to be too, either naturally or having learned it from the other two. I don't expect or want Cook to be Michael Clarke but I think that he could afford to be a bit more like him. England are obviously big on planning and that's great. Much of the time their plans are good and will see them home. Planning is good and you don't throw the plan out at the first sign of trouble but the plan should be constantly evaluated based on current conditions and there is always room for some instinct from someone who has good instincts, which an England captain should have. The UAE tour was a great example, where England rode a faulty batting plan all the way to a 0-3 loss and then still didn't try to change until the second innings of the next series in SL.

  • jmcilhinney on May 29, 2013, 6:49 GMT

    @Mavia1986 on (May 29, 2013, 0:30 GMT), no, obviously you're the only one smart enough to have thought of that. But does that justify risking a draw from such a strong position, especially when Cook, Flower, et al have specifically stated before this series that they were not looking ahead to the Ashes and concentrating purely on this series? I'm realistic enough to know that, even if they tried, they couldn't put the upcoming Ashes out of their minds completely but if they were really just using this series as practice for that then, as a fan, I'm not happy with that or the fact that they outright lied about it beforehand. Let me reiterate that I don't necessarily have an issue regarding the follow-on but, having made that decision, the slow scoring and late declaration were both very poor. Was Trott really justified in being so careful on day 3? Did England's bowlers really need ~470 to defend in order to bowl them to victory? Why was Flower so anxious if their tactics were so sound?

  • on May 29, 2013, 5:36 GMT

    jmcilhinney and Chris Howard have it spot on. A decision is not 'vindicated' simply because, as it happens, no disaster results.. Australia won dozens of Tests depute, rather than because of, Ponting's captaincy and England won this one despite Cook's.

  • on May 29, 2013, 3:59 GMT

    Bizarre logic indeed from Cook. A fantastic team performance nearly undone by the skipper's defensiveness and perversity. Not enforcing the follow on was understandable, but setting the 8th ranked team 478 to win, with inclement weather around was not, no matter how Cook spins it. It was at least 100 runs too many, and it nearly cost us the game. Hopefully we won't live to regret such caution in a tighter game against better opposition.

  • thatmanmonkz on May 29, 2013, 3:29 GMT

    Dear me, the opinions of us amateurs, yet again, abound. There is absolutely no need to question the validation of Cook and the England think-tank's decision regarding the follow-on and subsequent result. It has been sufficiently, and categorically, vindicated.

    Well played New Zealand over the 5 tests, lots of encouragement, some standouts, and reason for optimism for the future.

  • Meety on May 29, 2013, 3:20 GMT

    Wins a win but a couple more hours of rain & the genius can look like a goose. As it stands - he (Cook) is a genius!

  • DSTURB3D on May 29, 2013, 0:30 GMT

    Also, just to add. Did it occur to these "Couch Experts" that maybe cook took advantage of a little bit of time to give himself and his batsmen some more time in the middle in preparation for the upcoming ashes series. Maybe he also made that decision so that his bowlers weren't being over worked and therefore maybe preventing possible injuries before the upcoming ashes series. Just some food for thought!

  • DSTURB3D on May 29, 2013, 0:27 GMT

    Cook made his decisions and they paid off and yet still he is criticised for it. I wonder what people would have said if he had made the choice that all of these "couch experts" would have made and then lost the match. I understand what people are saying, that England should have been more attacking especially in such a good position but at the end of the day - England won. So still a good choice regardless what people think.

  • on May 29, 2013, 0:26 GMT

    his team won by 250 runs, what could be more simple than that?

  • Chris_Howard on May 29, 2013, 0:02 GMT

    Mr Cook, I don't think simply saying the decision was vindicated proves it was.

    Maybe you can explain how it was vindicated? How did delaying the declaration so long ensure an English victory? If your decision was right, then you would not have been nervous overnight. Whereas, if you had declared earlier, the game would have likely been over and you would have slept quite well.

    The result does not vindicate the decision - you were just lucky the weather favoured you - explaining how the decision ensured the result (a win) is the only valid vindication.

  • crickketlover on May 28, 2013, 23:23 GMT

    what is the big deal? This is like India beating Bangladesh in a test series in India. I think England is making too much out of this win. Move on - don't make too much fuss about this victory.

  • 2.14istherunrate on May 28, 2013, 23:11 GMT

    Instead of always trying to justify the all but unjustifiable and rightly termed so by so many,why can't these people just say they were not entirely vindicated instead of tring fight a dodgey corner. It is okay to get it a bit wrong so long as you can hold your hand up and say so. Please,Flower, Cook and Trott just do that instead of really getting on our nerves with this unstinting self righteousnesss which does our collecttve nut in! We can see and think,please. Mr Gower needs to speak louder in restaurants where England players are dining. For instanceTtrott just does not need to go slow. He is awesome when playing at 70r/p!100b.

  • wgtnpom on May 28, 2013, 22:56 GMT

    Simpleton's harsh. You don't get to be captain of England if you're a simpleton. You can make tactical decisions that seem inexplicable to the lay observer, and they might backfire, but in this case we won by 247 runs so clearly they didn't backfire. As I've written elsewhere, if we win the Ashes with this approach Cook'll probably get a knighthood.

  • 5wombats on May 28, 2013, 22:21 GMT

    To use the old cliche - "well, they would say that, wouldn't they"?

  • OhhhhhMattyMatty on May 28, 2013, 22:11 GMT

    John Price. Did England win, yes or no?

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on May 28, 2013, 21:00 GMT

    Fantastic and great captaincy from Cook, and awesome to see so many critics with egg on their faces or mysteriously absent from the discussion. Undoubtedly Cook has got the best out of England's champion players, and knew exactly what both batsmen and bowlers needed in the run up to this year. Vindicated all round. No wonder England have spent the last 6 years winning Ashes for fun. Their 2012 whitewash of Australia surprised no one.

  • John-Price on May 28, 2013, 20:48 GMT

    I have always been impressed by Cook but his actions in this match lead one to think he is something of a simpleton. A win that was there for the taking on Sunday evening was delayed until Tuesday afternoon by a series of absurdly defensive tactics and he thinks he has been vindicated?

  • John-Price on May 28, 2013, 20:48 GMT

    I have always been impressed by Cook but his actions in this match lead one to think he is something of a simpleton. A win that was there for the taking on Sunday evening was delayed until Tuesday afternoon by a series of absurdly defensive tactics and he thinks he has been vindicated?

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on May 28, 2013, 21:00 GMT

    Fantastic and great captaincy from Cook, and awesome to see so many critics with egg on their faces or mysteriously absent from the discussion. Undoubtedly Cook has got the best out of England's champion players, and knew exactly what both batsmen and bowlers needed in the run up to this year. Vindicated all round. No wonder England have spent the last 6 years winning Ashes for fun. Their 2012 whitewash of Australia surprised no one.

  • OhhhhhMattyMatty on May 28, 2013, 22:11 GMT

    John Price. Did England win, yes or no?

  • 5wombats on May 28, 2013, 22:21 GMT

    To use the old cliche - "well, they would say that, wouldn't they"?

  • wgtnpom on May 28, 2013, 22:56 GMT

    Simpleton's harsh. You don't get to be captain of England if you're a simpleton. You can make tactical decisions that seem inexplicable to the lay observer, and they might backfire, but in this case we won by 247 runs so clearly they didn't backfire. As I've written elsewhere, if we win the Ashes with this approach Cook'll probably get a knighthood.

  • 2.14istherunrate on May 28, 2013, 23:11 GMT

    Instead of always trying to justify the all but unjustifiable and rightly termed so by so many,why can't these people just say they were not entirely vindicated instead of tring fight a dodgey corner. It is okay to get it a bit wrong so long as you can hold your hand up and say so. Please,Flower, Cook and Trott just do that instead of really getting on our nerves with this unstinting self righteousnesss which does our collecttve nut in! We can see and think,please. Mr Gower needs to speak louder in restaurants where England players are dining. For instanceTtrott just does not need to go slow. He is awesome when playing at 70r/p!100b.

  • crickketlover on May 28, 2013, 23:23 GMT

    what is the big deal? This is like India beating Bangladesh in a test series in India. I think England is making too much out of this win. Move on - don't make too much fuss about this victory.

  • Chris_Howard on May 29, 2013, 0:02 GMT

    Mr Cook, I don't think simply saying the decision was vindicated proves it was.

    Maybe you can explain how it was vindicated? How did delaying the declaration so long ensure an English victory? If your decision was right, then you would not have been nervous overnight. Whereas, if you had declared earlier, the game would have likely been over and you would have slept quite well.

    The result does not vindicate the decision - you were just lucky the weather favoured you - explaining how the decision ensured the result (a win) is the only valid vindication.

  • on May 29, 2013, 0:26 GMT

    his team won by 250 runs, what could be more simple than that?

  • DSTURB3D on May 29, 2013, 0:27 GMT

    Cook made his decisions and they paid off and yet still he is criticised for it. I wonder what people would have said if he had made the choice that all of these "couch experts" would have made and then lost the match. I understand what people are saying, that England should have been more attacking especially in such a good position but at the end of the day - England won. So still a good choice regardless what people think.