England v Sri Lanka, 5th ODI, Old Trafford July 9, 2011

Cook shows captaincy credentials

30

If Alastair Cook really meant it when he said he wasn't motivated "to prove anyone wrong" then he has a strange way of going about things. A 3-2 victory and a Man-of-the-Series award concluded a four-day period that couldn't have gone much better for Cook.

A series defeat against Sri Lanka, the World Cup runners-up, wouldn't have been calamitous for Cook, especially if he'd made the runs he did, but the pressure would have been increased a few notches. Now, though, he has his second one-day trophy as ODI captain, following the win in Bangladesh last year, and can look forward with confidence to the challenges ahead, after a period back under Andrew Strauss' leadership in the Test team.

While showing that he can translate his Test batting form into the one-day game with 298 runs at a strike-rate of 96.75 in the series, Cook also displayed, during the deciding game at Old Trafford, his tactical acumen in the field. With three frontline quicks and two spinners to rotate while defending 268 there wasn't much room for a wrong call, particularly after Sri Lanka twice recovered through Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews; but Cook got it all right.

That came right down to giving Jade Dernbach, preferred to the struggling Stuart Broad, the 49th over, with 17 needed off 12 balls after Lasith Malinga had launched James Anderson for a six. Dernbach was in just his fifth ODI but pulled out his trademark slower ball which Mathews spooned to short third man, and then gave Malinga a taste of his own medicine with a swinging yorker.

"He has bowled really well at the death, and one of the main reasons he's been brought into that side is because of the skills he has - and you saw it at the end there, a slower ball followed by a yorker," Cook said. "We need everyone to be able to do that. He's bowled very well in pressure situations and in Powerplays.

"That's the first time I've had a really tight scenario in my eight games as one-day captain, and I thought we handled it well. The way we committed to what ball we wanted to bowl and were very clear in how we want to bowl was very pleasing."

At the start of the 35th over it appeared Cook was about to give Kevin Pietersen an over to give him some leeway later in the innings. But Sri Lanka took the batting Powerplay and Cook opted to return to Tim Bresnan and Dernbach. The visitors made 37 runs and didn't lose a wicket, but Cook was confident England could hold on with Graeme Swann and Samit Patel having overs left.

"Once we got through that Powerplay and they still needed seven-and-a-half an over and we had five overs of spin, I was quite confident. But we needed to get Mathews."

It was also a match which showed how vital it is to use up 50 overs after a collapse because the 15 runs added by Anderson and Dernbach off the final 11 balls of England's innings proved the difference. "From the position we got ourselves into, 213 for 3, we would have liked 280 or 290," Cook said. "But we are being critical - because 270 on that wicket was a very good score - and that little partnership at the end got us there."

Even though Cook has insisted there are no personal agendas for him there was more than a hint of satisfaction at what had been achieved, especially in the light of the growing criticism after England's performance at Lord's last week.

"Everyone was writing us off, and we've played well in these past two games in all conditions; on spinning wickets and flat wickets," he said. "When you pull on an England shirt, people are always going to have their own opinions.

"I don't do it to prove anyone wrong. I do it for the satisfaction that we got in that final half-hour of the game, and you can't replicate that. That's why you play the game. I think the most pleasing aspect is the way we fought back from 2-1 down in the series."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Fast_Track_Bully on July 11, 2011, 6:15 GMT

    @Valavan. You forget that India is 1st in Test rankings! and England is below India in ODIs too!

  • A_Vacant_Slip on July 10, 2011, 21:54 GMT

    @voma; ease off mate - we'll all friends here, mostly. We do not gloat when our opponent is on the canvas.

  • bestofluckindia on July 10, 2011, 18:55 GMT

    Finally after over a century since cricket was invented by Englishmen, they now have a good team of youngsters. Wonder what took them so long to reach at this level of competency. But I still believe that they still don't have enough to win a 50-over World cup. Don't be surprised but I don't think they can win it till next century

  • B.C.G on July 10, 2011, 16:35 GMT

    At the way Indian fans boast,one mightget the notion that the Indians thrashed England 3-0 intests,7-0 in ODI's.Real figures a close,lucky 1-0 win(rain) & 3-4 loss.

  • on July 10, 2011, 16:12 GMT

    Watever Alastair Cook is a player of quality.He proved his critics wrong which Michael Atherthon would be ashamed of.He has a very bright career ahead with many more runs...

  • demon_bowler on July 10, 2011, 13:38 GMT

    I'm sorry to see Sri Lanka go home -- they've contributed to fascinating series in both major formats of the game this summer. These games were more than just an appetiser for the series against the other team coming to these shores this year. Sri Lanka showed that they are more than able to hold their own despite the recent retirements of some of their greats. If this is the last we see in England of M. Jawawardene, Dilshan, Sangkakkara, and Malinga, they've left some pleasing memories. And a few younger players emerged who surely have good futures (P. Jawawardene, Chandimal, Paranavitana, Thirimanne). Plus Angelo Matthews is still only 24. Shame about the weather, but there was still some interesting cricket.

  • voma on July 10, 2011, 12:19 GMT

    Alaistair Cook has played very well against a very good Sri Lanka team , the guy has more than enough ability to open our batting in the odi format . What is puzzling is how its taken this long for the selectors to work this out ! . As far as the captaincy is concerned , all he can do is keep winning series . Which England keep doing , i will find it hilarious if he carts Indias bowlers around the park this summer

  • voma on July 10, 2011, 12:09 GMT

    @ Manesha Madiwalagamage , you got what you want from this series ? . Err beaten ? , Sri Lanka lost mate . Oh and on a flat wicket to might i just add . If it wasnt for the weather , you would have lost the test series 2 - 0 . So i have to say i really dont understand your point at all , apart from the fact just maybe you might be a poor loser .

  • dsig3 on July 10, 2011, 11:24 GMT

    Maybe Jayawardena should worry about his own form now that he has fixed Cook. What a horrible mistake to write about a player mid tournament. Some SL players just have to open their trap.

  • Pankaj_INDIA on July 10, 2011, 10:35 GMT

    @Cricket_Analyst: respect for you for thorough analysis, very well answered poms.. they will be disappeared from here after the series is over..

  • Fast_Track_Bully on July 11, 2011, 6:15 GMT

    @Valavan. You forget that India is 1st in Test rankings! and England is below India in ODIs too!

  • A_Vacant_Slip on July 10, 2011, 21:54 GMT

    @voma; ease off mate - we'll all friends here, mostly. We do not gloat when our opponent is on the canvas.

  • bestofluckindia on July 10, 2011, 18:55 GMT

    Finally after over a century since cricket was invented by Englishmen, they now have a good team of youngsters. Wonder what took them so long to reach at this level of competency. But I still believe that they still don't have enough to win a 50-over World cup. Don't be surprised but I don't think they can win it till next century

  • B.C.G on July 10, 2011, 16:35 GMT

    At the way Indian fans boast,one mightget the notion that the Indians thrashed England 3-0 intests,7-0 in ODI's.Real figures a close,lucky 1-0 win(rain) & 3-4 loss.

  • on July 10, 2011, 16:12 GMT

    Watever Alastair Cook is a player of quality.He proved his critics wrong which Michael Atherthon would be ashamed of.He has a very bright career ahead with many more runs...

  • demon_bowler on July 10, 2011, 13:38 GMT

    I'm sorry to see Sri Lanka go home -- they've contributed to fascinating series in both major formats of the game this summer. These games were more than just an appetiser for the series against the other team coming to these shores this year. Sri Lanka showed that they are more than able to hold their own despite the recent retirements of some of their greats. If this is the last we see in England of M. Jawawardene, Dilshan, Sangkakkara, and Malinga, they've left some pleasing memories. And a few younger players emerged who surely have good futures (P. Jawawardene, Chandimal, Paranavitana, Thirimanne). Plus Angelo Matthews is still only 24. Shame about the weather, but there was still some interesting cricket.

  • voma on July 10, 2011, 12:19 GMT

    Alaistair Cook has played very well against a very good Sri Lanka team , the guy has more than enough ability to open our batting in the odi format . What is puzzling is how its taken this long for the selectors to work this out ! . As far as the captaincy is concerned , all he can do is keep winning series . Which England keep doing , i will find it hilarious if he carts Indias bowlers around the park this summer

  • voma on July 10, 2011, 12:09 GMT

    @ Manesha Madiwalagamage , you got what you want from this series ? . Err beaten ? , Sri Lanka lost mate . Oh and on a flat wicket to might i just add . If it wasnt for the weather , you would have lost the test series 2 - 0 . So i have to say i really dont understand your point at all , apart from the fact just maybe you might be a poor loser .

  • dsig3 on July 10, 2011, 11:24 GMT

    Maybe Jayawardena should worry about his own form now that he has fixed Cook. What a horrible mistake to write about a player mid tournament. Some SL players just have to open their trap.

  • Pankaj_INDIA on July 10, 2011, 10:35 GMT

    @Cricket_Analyst: respect for you for thorough analysis, very well answered poms.. they will be disappeared from here after the series is over..

  • Valavan on July 10, 2011, 10:25 GMT

    We have had the ashes in 2005 against the greatest side, the almighty aussies who drubbed India in India in 2004. India is nowhere near the aussies of 2000s and Windies of 80s. we are ready. NO DRAWS and NO TIES. BRING on the ODI World Cup champions, many indians forgot India is below Aussie in ODI rankings and England is 1st in T20 rankings.

  • Cricket_Analyst on July 10, 2011, 9:27 GMT

    This is the usual case of hyping English Cricketers as "great" and "legends" before any crucial series. Can't fathom how they manage do it time and again...and later eat their own words.....No Doubts in my mind how the Ind. Eng Series series is going to pan out....ODI Series 3-2 or 4-1 in India's Favor...Test Series 2-1 in India's Favor or 1-1. For all ...who have been pointing out that last time Eng.bt Ind. in ODI ...then also remember that we bt. Eng in Tests...and if you are trying to tell Indians...that your team has improved since then.Pls. note Team India is not sitting with twiddling its thumbs. A Point to prove in case is the rankings of these two teams in comparative to today.In July 2007 ....when Ind. Eng Test series was being played..Eng.Rank 2 Points 115.Ind.Rank 5 Points 102...and Ranking as on date...Eng.Rank 3 Point116.Ind.Rank 1 Point 128...So Its Team India which has improved by leaps & Bounds and Not Eng as is being hyped in the media..

  • Valavan on July 10, 2011, 8:56 GMT

    We are ready for India. We dont want to talk more here, we will show at the field. @PANKAJ, dont forget India escaped lords test previously due to rain and they were 9 down. This is fresh series, this aint Ahmedabad or Mohali, Good Luck India. It wont be as easy as you all expect that to be.

  • petz on July 10, 2011, 8:51 GMT

    Lankans are a better side comparing with England considering the ODI s ,but England proved they have the caliber.Again the real test is ahead.Indians with full squad will be a real treat both in ODI s and in Test.This series will really mark the England as a team and Cook as a captain.with Ishant and Praveen provving ther form joining Zaheer and Sree.Sevag ,Gambhir,Sachin to join......................

    TAKE THE CHALLANGE......................

    INDIANS ARE COMMING..................

  • 5wombats on July 10, 2011, 8:23 GMT

    @bestofluckindia; very boastful comments that will probably come back to haunt you. The last time india played England india just scrapped a draw - and then only because they were luck enough to have a fielder in the right place to stop a Graham Swann smash for four which would have won the game. I think india were playing at home in that game too. Messing with the world champions! "it won't be a surprise that Andy flower, Captain Strauss, Captain Cook will resign after is tour or get axed". Don't make me laugh. See you at Lords.

  • on July 10, 2011, 8:08 GMT

    @aus_sore_losers..Now please don't play smart here...it was a slose encounter than it was in 2005 where we did white out the Englishman in that erra... but it's diffrent..every teram goes on this time when they have up's and down's ..you must have heard some Sri Lankan fans being more over talked regarding the whitewash...but it will be same story when it come to Englishman and their stories of Ashes>> Englnad has lot to prove and still you people are learning the art of playing ODI..and we Sri Lankan's have matered it...we have got we wanted from this series....and we will wait till Englnad arrives when we give our own taste from our own back yard........

  • on July 10, 2011, 7:36 GMT

    i know that india is a very good one day team but in english condition is different and last time england had beat india in 2006 07 and right now england is the one of best in the world and we will see......how indian will beat formidable england team....

  • Pankaj_INDIA on July 10, 2011, 6:59 GMT

    @BCG: last time, final ODI was marred by poor decisions against dravid and tendulkar, otherwise it would have been 4-3 in our favour.. nevertheless, just wait for 2 months, we will show how GOOD ur team and CAPTAIN is..be ready to eat ur words.. test series 2-0 or 3-0 in india's favour and ODI probably 4-1 or 5-0..

  • B.C.G on July 10, 2011, 5:33 GMT

    @ bestofluckindia-Your 2nd Indian Xl couldn't beat a weak W.I. team 5-0.Last time remember the 1st XI lost 4-3.

  • on July 10, 2011, 4:59 GMT

    this time no tie no more draws.. you've won the world cup but don't forget that you could only manage tie with ENGLAND in world cup & tie is not winning. and yes lets have Indians now!!

  • aus_sore_losers on July 10, 2011, 4:38 GMT

    where are srilankans?? only big talk about 5-0 white wash.. couldnt even win the series..

  • on July 10, 2011, 4:26 GMT

    One or two matches doesn't matter.He still have to prove himself in the following matches.

  • landl47 on July 10, 2011, 4:24 GMT

    Cook, like every other captain, has to have his players perform well in order to succeed. However, he seems to be a calm and collected individual who never gives up and those are necessary qualities for a good captain to have. Whether he has that spark of inspiration which separates the Benauds, Brearleys and Imrans from the others, we'll have to wait and see.

  • sidzy on July 10, 2011, 3:29 GMT

    Cook is not a special caption it will be proven against better one day teams like india, aus, sa.

  • bestofluckindia on July 10, 2011, 3:12 GMT

    @ Julian Walter. You wrote "Lets have the Indians now! " ...Really you got to be a highly superlative kind of optimist to write that. Instead you should write "Let's have the Indians now and try not to get beaten by 5-0 to them in ODI's." Don't mess with the World champions. India second string team (Tiwary, Rohit, Vijay, Badrinath, Kohli, Parthiv, Yusuf, Munaf, PK, Ishant, Mishra)is more than enough for England to auction their captaincy position again that's how much the damage will be. Mark my words and it won't be a surprise that Andy flower, Captain Strauss, Captain Cook will resign after is tour or get axed.

  • bestofluckindia on July 10, 2011, 2:51 GMT

    Cook no doubt is in a great phase of his cricketing life. But I feel he is under tremendous pressure to perform and prove something which I don't understand. He has just been captain for 9 ODI's and every Senior English player on commentary and those writing articles on websites keep criticizing him. There is only so much a player can take moreso he is leading from front scoring runs. On the other hand these people who criticize him need to learn from Srilankan's. Look @ Dilshan's performance in this series. He is still the captain and will be for a long period of time. So these commentators should get a life and leave Cook alone for at least a year and then judge him as a captain.

  • on July 10, 2011, 1:09 GMT

    You the man Cookie. Lima Supporters Club. Lets have the Indians now!

  • subbass on July 9, 2011, 23:56 GMT

    Cook goes from strength to strength ! The man can do no wrong, in the form of his life, long may it continue and he is starting to look like a fairly shrewd and calm skipper which is pleasing.

  • 5wombats on July 9, 2011, 22:47 GMT

    Really good from Captain Cook! A revelation! It won't always be like this for him - there will be tribulations ahead, but this is a good start and he's certainly got the form with the bat. Nice to see him nail Atherton on the podium at the end of the game too, he-he!

  • Mcgrath-Dravid-Flintoff on July 9, 2011, 22:28 GMT

    Cook's done a great job but he still has to bat weel at a good strike rate to prove critics wrong! 1 or 2 matches is nothing! All the best Chef!

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Mcgrath-Dravid-Flintoff on July 9, 2011, 22:28 GMT

    Cook's done a great job but he still has to bat weel at a good strike rate to prove critics wrong! 1 or 2 matches is nothing! All the best Chef!

  • 5wombats on July 9, 2011, 22:47 GMT

    Really good from Captain Cook! A revelation! It won't always be like this for him - there will be tribulations ahead, but this is a good start and he's certainly got the form with the bat. Nice to see him nail Atherton on the podium at the end of the game too, he-he!

  • subbass on July 9, 2011, 23:56 GMT

    Cook goes from strength to strength ! The man can do no wrong, in the form of his life, long may it continue and he is starting to look like a fairly shrewd and calm skipper which is pleasing.

  • on July 10, 2011, 1:09 GMT

    You the man Cookie. Lima Supporters Club. Lets have the Indians now!

  • bestofluckindia on July 10, 2011, 2:51 GMT

    Cook no doubt is in a great phase of his cricketing life. But I feel he is under tremendous pressure to perform and prove something which I don't understand. He has just been captain for 9 ODI's and every Senior English player on commentary and those writing articles on websites keep criticizing him. There is only so much a player can take moreso he is leading from front scoring runs. On the other hand these people who criticize him need to learn from Srilankan's. Look @ Dilshan's performance in this series. He is still the captain and will be for a long period of time. So these commentators should get a life and leave Cook alone for at least a year and then judge him as a captain.

  • bestofluckindia on July 10, 2011, 3:12 GMT

    @ Julian Walter. You wrote "Lets have the Indians now! " ...Really you got to be a highly superlative kind of optimist to write that. Instead you should write "Let's have the Indians now and try not to get beaten by 5-0 to them in ODI's." Don't mess with the World champions. India second string team (Tiwary, Rohit, Vijay, Badrinath, Kohli, Parthiv, Yusuf, Munaf, PK, Ishant, Mishra)is more than enough for England to auction their captaincy position again that's how much the damage will be. Mark my words and it won't be a surprise that Andy flower, Captain Strauss, Captain Cook will resign after is tour or get axed.

  • sidzy on July 10, 2011, 3:29 GMT

    Cook is not a special caption it will be proven against better one day teams like india, aus, sa.

  • landl47 on July 10, 2011, 4:24 GMT

    Cook, like every other captain, has to have his players perform well in order to succeed. However, he seems to be a calm and collected individual who never gives up and those are necessary qualities for a good captain to have. Whether he has that spark of inspiration which separates the Benauds, Brearleys and Imrans from the others, we'll have to wait and see.

  • on July 10, 2011, 4:26 GMT

    One or two matches doesn't matter.He still have to prove himself in the following matches.

  • aus_sore_losers on July 10, 2011, 4:38 GMT

    where are srilankans?? only big talk about 5-0 white wash.. couldnt even win the series..