Sri Lanka in England 2014 May 29, 2014

Cook passes on credit for England turnaround

17

Alastair Cook became England's most successful ODI captain with the overwhelming victory over Sri Lanka at Old Trafford, but he was not taking much credit for the remarkable turnaround after the 99 all out at Chester-le-Street, instead praising his team-mates for "putting their necks on the line for me".

Cook missed the Durham match due to a groin injury - he admitted watching on "was not pretty" - and his return could not have heralded a more emphatic upturn in England's fortunes as Sri Lanka crumbled to 67 all out, the second lowest completed ODI innings against England, and the runs were knocked off in 12.1 overs.

At various points throughout Sri Lanka's innings England's fields looked more like those that will be on show during the Test series next month. Dinesh Chandimal was greeted with three slips and a short leg, and then Cook also added a leg gully for good measure as Chris Jordan targeted the lower order with hostile short deliveries.

The lack of an attacking mind-set has been one of the criticisms levelled at Cook during his captaincy tenure, but no one could argue he did not take the match by the scruff of the neck once England had Sri Lanka struggling.

There will be tougher scenarios to test Cook and to see whether he can become a gambling type of captain, but he sensed the moment to go for the "jugular" although put the praise on his bowlers for allowing him to do that.

"I gambled a little bit, but luckily every time I was thinking about taking Jords off he took another wicket," he said. "The overs were counting down and I was wondering how long I could keep him going but the decision was taken out of my hands.

"At the time they were six or seven down I was going to go for the jugular and would have bowled out our seamers. If we didn't get the wickets then Ravi and Tredders could have done the job, but luckily we didn't get that far."

"You're only as good as your bowlers and we got backed up by some very good bowling. We had the chance to put Sri Lanka under some real pressure. We bowled with real intensity and Sri Lanka found it very hard and I could afford to set attacking fields."

But Cook said leadership was not just coming from him. The day before the Old Trafford match, James Anderson said senior players let Cook down in Australia but now the captain was seeing a renewed sense of kinship in the side.

"Maybe this summer they are determined to help the youngsters," he said. "I'm in a lucky position at the moment because the guys are putting their necks on the line for me and are helping me out on that side. You do need a strong group of players who are prepared to do that."

He also thought that his team had caught Sri Lanka "napping" on a day where the forecasts had not given much chance of any cricket. Instead, within a period of less than an hour the covers were off, the toss had happened and Anderson was threatening with the new ball.

But given the nature of this one-day series so far it would be dangerous to presume that even though the victory was record-breaking (England had never had so many deliveries left in a run chase) it means they are now clear favourites. Durham will serve as a warning to that, as does the expectation of warmer, sunnier weather for Lord's which should make Sri Lanka feel a little more confident.

Cook admitted that inconsistency is likely to be a feature of a team being rebuilt, but hoped that the swings in performance would not be as dramatic as over the last week. "It was a realisation to the guys that after one good performance, you have to keep going at 100% or you get found out," he said. "There will be some inconsistency with the less experienced guys, but that doesn't mean you can pass off every poor performance on that."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • steve48 on May 30, 2014, 13:02 GMT

    Good comments from Cook, seems as though he has got a level headed attitude to a crushing win by taking conditions and opposition into account, something that I believe we failed to do when we beat India in England to become world number 1. The hammering at home by South Africa should have shook up our attitude, perhaps the slaughter by Australia will herald a new, aggressive, realistic, ADAPTIVE England, who enjoy victory but keep perspective and prepare for each challenge. Ever the optimist, me!

  • pandian_ikku on May 30, 2014, 9:33 GMT

    You can not compare Australian conditions with cold England weather. Sri Lankans wanted to finish the match soon as they were freezing out there in the ground.

  • anver777 on May 30, 2014, 8:47 GMT

    Good cricket from Eng, after their debacle 99 in the 2nd ODI.... a strong comeback by them in 3rd ODI, shot SL for 67 !!!! I think SL should hit back in the next ODI & make the series interesting !!!!!

  • Prabhash1985 on May 30, 2014, 8:06 GMT

    This is why Sri Lankan Cricket Board should have invested in Nuwara Eliya cricket ground rather than in elephant dents with no roads to go even to the stadium. A better management, and a better leadership could have reduced much of the problems. But, that's a different universe.

  • Prabhash1985 on May 30, 2014, 8:02 GMT

    Once in a while, there is a bad. We all know what happened. But, it's great that Mathews give no excuses. He was manly enough to take it, and go further without criticising anything or anyone. You can do it Mathews! Win or lose, I don't care. But we will win.

  • MH19 on May 30, 2014, 2:54 GMT

    Watchout for SL they will come all guns firing and will win both next one dayers and the series

  • on May 30, 2014, 2:40 GMT

    conditions and reckless batting approach made turnaround for England. this sri Lankan lads find it extremely difficult to perform in 12 degree overcast conditions. but no excuses dispute unfavorable conditions they should have pose better intense. I strongly think they will come back again. Bangladesh is talk only no action team. as far as I remember they bowled out to 33 in Colombo. ( not sure exact number )

  • landl47 on May 30, 2014, 2:37 GMT

    Cook is an intelligent and level-headed guy. He knows this wasn't a typical performance by Sri Lanka and England will face tougher challenges as the series and the tour goes on. It's nice to see a more attacking mind-set, though. England has the players to dominate if the plan is right. Too often Giles didn't appear to have any plan in mind. England must be aggressive to succeed in the shorter formats.

  • Ms.Cricket on May 30, 2014, 0:43 GMT

    Only Bell and Broad (post injury) deserve a place in the ODI squad.The rest are rubbish and ECB should change things now starting with the selectors.

  • Patchmaster on May 29, 2014, 22:11 GMT

    So so good to see Cook being more aggressive with his fields and bowlers - more please !

  • steve48 on May 30, 2014, 13:02 GMT

    Good comments from Cook, seems as though he has got a level headed attitude to a crushing win by taking conditions and opposition into account, something that I believe we failed to do when we beat India in England to become world number 1. The hammering at home by South Africa should have shook up our attitude, perhaps the slaughter by Australia will herald a new, aggressive, realistic, ADAPTIVE England, who enjoy victory but keep perspective and prepare for each challenge. Ever the optimist, me!

  • pandian_ikku on May 30, 2014, 9:33 GMT

    You can not compare Australian conditions with cold England weather. Sri Lankans wanted to finish the match soon as they were freezing out there in the ground.

  • anver777 on May 30, 2014, 8:47 GMT

    Good cricket from Eng, after their debacle 99 in the 2nd ODI.... a strong comeback by them in 3rd ODI, shot SL for 67 !!!! I think SL should hit back in the next ODI & make the series interesting !!!!!

  • Prabhash1985 on May 30, 2014, 8:06 GMT

    This is why Sri Lankan Cricket Board should have invested in Nuwara Eliya cricket ground rather than in elephant dents with no roads to go even to the stadium. A better management, and a better leadership could have reduced much of the problems. But, that's a different universe.

  • Prabhash1985 on May 30, 2014, 8:02 GMT

    Once in a while, there is a bad. We all know what happened. But, it's great that Mathews give no excuses. He was manly enough to take it, and go further without criticising anything or anyone. You can do it Mathews! Win or lose, I don't care. But we will win.

  • MH19 on May 30, 2014, 2:54 GMT

    Watchout for SL they will come all guns firing and will win both next one dayers and the series

  • on May 30, 2014, 2:40 GMT

    conditions and reckless batting approach made turnaround for England. this sri Lankan lads find it extremely difficult to perform in 12 degree overcast conditions. but no excuses dispute unfavorable conditions they should have pose better intense. I strongly think they will come back again. Bangladesh is talk only no action team. as far as I remember they bowled out to 33 in Colombo. ( not sure exact number )

  • landl47 on May 30, 2014, 2:37 GMT

    Cook is an intelligent and level-headed guy. He knows this wasn't a typical performance by Sri Lanka and England will face tougher challenges as the series and the tour goes on. It's nice to see a more attacking mind-set, though. England has the players to dominate if the plan is right. Too often Giles didn't appear to have any plan in mind. England must be aggressive to succeed in the shorter formats.

  • Ms.Cricket on May 30, 2014, 0:43 GMT

    Only Bell and Broad (post injury) deserve a place in the ODI squad.The rest are rubbish and ECB should change things now starting with the selectors.

  • Patchmaster on May 29, 2014, 22:11 GMT

    So so good to see Cook being more aggressive with his fields and bowlers - more please !

  • markatnotts on May 29, 2014, 20:25 GMT

    @Saud Choudhry, what have Bangladesh got to do with it? Regardless of not being bowled out by England for such a score - there is a chance it would have happened in these conditions against anyone playing England. SA were bowled out for 80 in England 6 years ago. As much as I respect BL, their record anywhere is still fairly poor despite some noticeable successes.

  • markatnotts on May 29, 2014, 20:11 GMT

    @BlackHawk, the county games were called off due to excessive rain elsewhere. That said this was a freak game - any team can be ambushed in these conditions. As far as SL are concerned they are one of the most consistent tournament teams as you quite rightly point out, and to me as an England fan beating SL in any white ball series (if we do) regardless of conditions is more of an achievement for an England team than perhaps us winning the Test series. Anyway let us hope for better weather on Saturday and a close game.

  • bobmartin on May 29, 2014, 18:35 GMT

    No good blaming the conditions...It's swings and roundabouts.. and in almost all cases the home team get the advantage of the conditions.. That's the way it goes..

  • Lassie.Perera on May 29, 2014, 17:35 GMT

    I like the way SL captain Mathews handled the situation. Even though weather was 12°C at maximum but yet No excuses. As a Sri Lankan I like that attitude. So far we (SL) played 4 internationals and results at the moment remains 2/2. Because of early summer, SL have been playing in an alien conditions. Could somebody explain me that who has done better so far.

  • BlackHawk on May 29, 2014, 17:18 GMT

    I think it's best to treat this performance as an aberration but the team as a whole were far below their best. You can't compare SL to Bangladesh. All teams have their bad days. Didn't India get knocked out of the WC by Bangladesh? I know Matthews didn't want to blame the conditions as a factor but it has to be at least considered. Sri Lanka are a team who coped with conditions out of their norm well in the past as they were Finalists in the Caribbean, India, England in the WT20 and CB series in Australia. The average temperature that day was 12C. The conditions were deemed bad enough to call off the County games elsewhere. At least now England have found a reliable way of overcoming better teams from the subcontinent.

  • on May 29, 2014, 16:32 GMT

    This 1-Day series is turning heads for sure. SL wins huge one day and punched out on another; England given up for dead comes roaring back like the hungry lion that it has proved to be. Wonder what new surprises these two teams will pull further down the series. SL bowled out for 67! Still find that hard to believe; but that's exactly what happened. If it was Bangladesh, then the arm chair pundits would be out with their usual call - "throw them out of the elite circle. They don't belong there." Wonder what these elitists are saying now. Even Bangladesh has never scored this low against England. But then this is cricket and anything can happen, specially in the shorter format.

  • on May 29, 2014, 15:27 GMT

    I must admit England are doing a fine Pr job at the moment. Theyre papering over all the cracks that appeared in Australia with some fine wordsmithing. Just because the team won doesnt mean that the put their necks on the line for him. Just because Jordan got 5 doesnt mean Cook is a good tactician. I simply have no idea what all the rah rah rahs are all about concerning the county competition and playing a new brand of cricket. Its almost as though theyre trying to convince everyone out there that theyre all pulling in the same direction now. So they werent before? As in Cook doesnt have the teams full support and some in the camp dont mind Pietersen that much? I think thats true tbh. I think a fairly small group of players hated Pietersen. Anderson, Broad, Swann, Prior and of course Cook and Flower who clearly have felt the pressure of playing a negative brand of cricket. I think the fallout from the Ashes is still visible in the PR.

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  • on May 29, 2014, 15:27 GMT

    I must admit England are doing a fine Pr job at the moment. Theyre papering over all the cracks that appeared in Australia with some fine wordsmithing. Just because the team won doesnt mean that the put their necks on the line for him. Just because Jordan got 5 doesnt mean Cook is a good tactician. I simply have no idea what all the rah rah rahs are all about concerning the county competition and playing a new brand of cricket. Its almost as though theyre trying to convince everyone out there that theyre all pulling in the same direction now. So they werent before? As in Cook doesnt have the teams full support and some in the camp dont mind Pietersen that much? I think thats true tbh. I think a fairly small group of players hated Pietersen. Anderson, Broad, Swann, Prior and of course Cook and Flower who clearly have felt the pressure of playing a negative brand of cricket. I think the fallout from the Ashes is still visible in the PR.

  • on May 29, 2014, 16:32 GMT

    This 1-Day series is turning heads for sure. SL wins huge one day and punched out on another; England given up for dead comes roaring back like the hungry lion that it has proved to be. Wonder what new surprises these two teams will pull further down the series. SL bowled out for 67! Still find that hard to believe; but that's exactly what happened. If it was Bangladesh, then the arm chair pundits would be out with their usual call - "throw them out of the elite circle. They don't belong there." Wonder what these elitists are saying now. Even Bangladesh has never scored this low against England. But then this is cricket and anything can happen, specially in the shorter format.

  • BlackHawk on May 29, 2014, 17:18 GMT

    I think it's best to treat this performance as an aberration but the team as a whole were far below their best. You can't compare SL to Bangladesh. All teams have their bad days. Didn't India get knocked out of the WC by Bangladesh? I know Matthews didn't want to blame the conditions as a factor but it has to be at least considered. Sri Lanka are a team who coped with conditions out of their norm well in the past as they were Finalists in the Caribbean, India, England in the WT20 and CB series in Australia. The average temperature that day was 12C. The conditions were deemed bad enough to call off the County games elsewhere. At least now England have found a reliable way of overcoming better teams from the subcontinent.

  • Lassie.Perera on May 29, 2014, 17:35 GMT

    I like the way SL captain Mathews handled the situation. Even though weather was 12°C at maximum but yet No excuses. As a Sri Lankan I like that attitude. So far we (SL) played 4 internationals and results at the moment remains 2/2. Because of early summer, SL have been playing in an alien conditions. Could somebody explain me that who has done better so far.

  • bobmartin on May 29, 2014, 18:35 GMT

    No good blaming the conditions...It's swings and roundabouts.. and in almost all cases the home team get the advantage of the conditions.. That's the way it goes..

  • markatnotts on May 29, 2014, 20:11 GMT

    @BlackHawk, the county games were called off due to excessive rain elsewhere. That said this was a freak game - any team can be ambushed in these conditions. As far as SL are concerned they are one of the most consistent tournament teams as you quite rightly point out, and to me as an England fan beating SL in any white ball series (if we do) regardless of conditions is more of an achievement for an England team than perhaps us winning the Test series. Anyway let us hope for better weather on Saturday and a close game.

  • markatnotts on May 29, 2014, 20:25 GMT

    @Saud Choudhry, what have Bangladesh got to do with it? Regardless of not being bowled out by England for such a score - there is a chance it would have happened in these conditions against anyone playing England. SA were bowled out for 80 in England 6 years ago. As much as I respect BL, their record anywhere is still fairly poor despite some noticeable successes.

  • Patchmaster on May 29, 2014, 22:11 GMT

    So so good to see Cook being more aggressive with his fields and bowlers - more please !

  • Ms.Cricket on May 30, 2014, 0:43 GMT

    Only Bell and Broad (post injury) deserve a place in the ODI squad.The rest are rubbish and ECB should change things now starting with the selectors.

  • landl47 on May 30, 2014, 2:37 GMT

    Cook is an intelligent and level-headed guy. He knows this wasn't a typical performance by Sri Lanka and England will face tougher challenges as the series and the tour goes on. It's nice to see a more attacking mind-set, though. England has the players to dominate if the plan is right. Too often Giles didn't appear to have any plan in mind. England must be aggressive to succeed in the shorter formats.