Sri Lanka in England 2014 May 29, 2014

Cook passes on credit for England turnaround


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

  • Steve 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!

  • Kasun 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.

  • Anver 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 !!!!!

  • Janaka 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.

  • Janaka 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.

  • Manoj 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

  • Android 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 )

  • John 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.

  • Prem 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.

  • Ed on May 29, 2014, 22:11 GMT

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

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