England v Sri Lanka, 2nd Investec Test, Headingley, 4th day June 23, 2014

Bell defends Cook captaincy

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England performance 'absolutely gutting' - Bell

Ian Bell has rejected the suggestion Alastair Cook is on the brink of resigning the England captaincy and said it was the performance of the players rather than any tactical shortcomings that have cost the side in Leeds.

Bell, England's unofficial vice-captain and the man most likely to be appointed captain should Cook step down, was one of the batsmen dismissed on the fourth evening of the second Test as England finished on 57 for 5 chasing an improbable 350 for victory.

While Bell praised the century by Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews as "one of the best" innings of its type he had witnessed, he also accepted that England had "failed to execute their skills" or take their chances in allowing their opposition back into the game. In particular, he conceded that England's bowlers had pitched too short and the fielders had failed to cling on to a succession of opportunities.

"It looks like we're going to lose this Test," Bell said. "And that is absolutely gutting. But there is absolutely no doubt [that Cook will continue as captain]. I don't think the tactics were wrong. I don't think he could have done anything more.

"Our plans were to get the ball full and we didn't quite do that. I don't think the bowlers will sit there and say they got it right. It felt the kind of wicket that, with anything short, you wanted to make the most of it.

"And we, as batsman, had an opportunity with the bat to bury them in the first innings. We didn't take it and I think they showed what good teams do: when people are down, you have to keep them down.

"We had chances in the field and we put them down. You can't do that with good teams. You can't give those world-class players opportunities or they will hurt you. They've been outstanding today, but we've been really disappointing. We've been outplayed. They recognised today was a massive day and they've won it.

"As a group, we've got to help him [Cook]. We've got to get right behind him and start performing as a team. He's got more hundreds than anyone in an England shirt and he's been one of the best batsmen I've ever played with. Form is temporary. One innings and he'll be flying again. So I'm not worried about his batting at all."

Bell offered warm praise for Mathews' century, but admitted that England had erred tactically in giving him singles in the hope of attacking his lower-order partners. Instead, Bell, suggested, they should also have attempted to dismiss Mathews.

"Hats off to him," Bell said. "It was an incredible knock. He's played arguably one of the best knocks we've seen against us, certainly shepherding the tail. I can't remember one, since I've been playing, that was better than that towards the back end, the way he has played with the bowlers.

"But you look back with hindsight and I think if you want to stop someone like that scoring runs you get them out, don't you? You don't just try to stop them scoring. But I hope tomorrow that we've got five guys who can show what it means to wear an England shirt and come out with some pride and at least do something.

"We've been working really well and there's this one really bad day we've had in the last eight or nine. In a two-match series, you can have one bad day and lose it. If this was a five-match series, we could fight our way back in, but we can't."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY Roshan_P on | June 24, 2014, 14:08 GMT

    @Garry Powell - You make a good point saying that Broad should be captain. However it's difficult for a bowler to be captain, so I doub that will happen. Surely Cook should either resign or be sacked and Bell, who may not be a great performer under pressure, would surely do better than Cook. In the future I think it will be either Stokes or Buttler that becomes the Test captain as they are a little bit daring and they have charisma - that is assuming that they have the tactical intelligence to succeed.

  • POSTED BY Clyde on | June 24, 2014, 14:03 GMT

    The English cricket authorities have never explained the dropping of Pietersen in terms of his form. This has left the sense of an organisation that does not believe in promoting the obvious and popular. It has a secret science for success of a mysterious kind that the public cannot identify with. So the English team would deep down feel it was to an important degree playing a charade. It is no longer playing to the public. The absence of so many spectators from the stands reflects the fact that the public has been demeaned and is in protest. We cannot expect the English performance to be much good until, as George Dobell has put it, it gets a new public. So dismal is the hope of getting a new and natural form of selection and captaincy.

  • POSTED BY wapuser on | June 24, 2014, 13:07 GMT

    Eng. Captain refused to call upon Moheen Ali early to bowl. MICHEAL Vaugn did the same thing to Ravi Bapora ion his Debut

  • POSTED BY Englishmanabroad on | June 24, 2014, 12:46 GMT

    Regardless of his batting history, something has to be done about Cook as captain. Perhaps the appropriate thing is to make Bell captain, and let Cook concentrate on his batting. His recent average of ~20-25 is just not good enough.

    However, I do see an issue with the way Cook is getting out, time after time. Once the opposition bowlers see that he is susceptible to the full length delivery just outside his off stump, guess how they are going to bowl!! I haven't checked his recent history, however personal recollection tells me that he has been put out by edging to keeper/slip on at least 20 times in the last 30 innings (all formats).

    Once that gets into his mind, its hard to break out. Maybe move in down to 3 or 4 so that he is not facing the new ball. Hard to say.

  • POSTED BY GHemrajani on | June 24, 2014, 12:37 GMT

    Why is Bell already saying that it looks like England is losing the game? sounds negative even for an unofficial vice-captain. Just saying that we need to perform better doesn't mean that performance will improve. The old players are the ones not performing like Cook, Bell, Anderson and Prior. Like others, I say get KP back! Eventually things will turn around but until then, England prefer to keep losing rather than bringing KP back and wining a few.

  • POSTED BY shabmost on | June 24, 2014, 11:01 GMT

    How Angelo Mathews does over time, how he juggles captaincy and his form, that has to be seen over time. Cook handled it well initially too, but that was a happy time for England. Cook was rather naive at that time, still learning, and he had few brave men like KP, Swan & Trott to guard him against all challenges and adversaries, so that he could focus on his own game. Let's accept it, Cook's focus and/or form is not going to get any better at this situation, particularly when there are doubts and a general sense of Macbethian guilt and culpability in the England dressing room. Cook and his masters in ECB are also likely to loose the series against India, who are also very keen to avail this rare opportunity of winning an away series in England. The only way to wash the blood off the hands, and help Cook and these new young cricketers in Roots, Robson, Balance, Jordan and Ali is get to KP back. KP is also lost and purposeless without the team. The team needs his bravery and influence.

  • POSTED BY on | June 24, 2014, 9:52 GMT

    Bury the EGOS. Get KP back, runs will flow for England again. Believe me..

  • POSTED BY jb633 on | June 24, 2014, 9:44 GMT

    It's sad to say but I see no positives about English cricket right now. I can't see any end in sight because we have no spinners coming through and you can't play cricket in this age without them. Our batsmen in turn will not be learning how to play against good spin and we are going to lose against Bangladesh and the WI as soon as we play in their back yard. Cook is a huge short term worry. he has been found out tecnically and his captaincy is the worst in world cricket. Aus could whitewash us again next year by an even greater margin. We are really that bad right now. There needs to be an inquest into why we are just not producing good quality young cricketers. IMO too much stall is payed to academy development rather than letting guys learn the craft on their own by playing good level club cricket for 2 years.

  • POSTED BY ceyloncric on | June 24, 2014, 9:25 GMT

    I loved to watch Cook as a batsmen in the past.He is a re-active captain, not a pro-active one.....I hope England get their wrongs righted before their great cricket loving public abandons them!

  • POSTED BY Beertjie on | June 24, 2014, 8:56 GMT

    Sack Cook as skipper and replace him with Broad. Bell doesn't have the nous for the job. Broad is not lovable but just possibly he might effect a turn-around. Worth a try sooner rather than later.

  • POSTED BY Roshan_P on | June 24, 2014, 14:08 GMT

    @Garry Powell - You make a good point saying that Broad should be captain. However it's difficult for a bowler to be captain, so I doub that will happen. Surely Cook should either resign or be sacked and Bell, who may not be a great performer under pressure, would surely do better than Cook. In the future I think it will be either Stokes or Buttler that becomes the Test captain as they are a little bit daring and they have charisma - that is assuming that they have the tactical intelligence to succeed.

  • POSTED BY Clyde on | June 24, 2014, 14:03 GMT

    The English cricket authorities have never explained the dropping of Pietersen in terms of his form. This has left the sense of an organisation that does not believe in promoting the obvious and popular. It has a secret science for success of a mysterious kind that the public cannot identify with. So the English team would deep down feel it was to an important degree playing a charade. It is no longer playing to the public. The absence of so many spectators from the stands reflects the fact that the public has been demeaned and is in protest. We cannot expect the English performance to be much good until, as George Dobell has put it, it gets a new public. So dismal is the hope of getting a new and natural form of selection and captaincy.

  • POSTED BY wapuser on | June 24, 2014, 13:07 GMT

    Eng. Captain refused to call upon Moheen Ali early to bowl. MICHEAL Vaugn did the same thing to Ravi Bapora ion his Debut

  • POSTED BY Englishmanabroad on | June 24, 2014, 12:46 GMT

    Regardless of his batting history, something has to be done about Cook as captain. Perhaps the appropriate thing is to make Bell captain, and let Cook concentrate on his batting. His recent average of ~20-25 is just not good enough.

    However, I do see an issue with the way Cook is getting out, time after time. Once the opposition bowlers see that he is susceptible to the full length delivery just outside his off stump, guess how they are going to bowl!! I haven't checked his recent history, however personal recollection tells me that he has been put out by edging to keeper/slip on at least 20 times in the last 30 innings (all formats).

    Once that gets into his mind, its hard to break out. Maybe move in down to 3 or 4 so that he is not facing the new ball. Hard to say.

  • POSTED BY GHemrajani on | June 24, 2014, 12:37 GMT

    Why is Bell already saying that it looks like England is losing the game? sounds negative even for an unofficial vice-captain. Just saying that we need to perform better doesn't mean that performance will improve. The old players are the ones not performing like Cook, Bell, Anderson and Prior. Like others, I say get KP back! Eventually things will turn around but until then, England prefer to keep losing rather than bringing KP back and wining a few.

  • POSTED BY shabmost on | June 24, 2014, 11:01 GMT

    How Angelo Mathews does over time, how he juggles captaincy and his form, that has to be seen over time. Cook handled it well initially too, but that was a happy time for England. Cook was rather naive at that time, still learning, and he had few brave men like KP, Swan & Trott to guard him against all challenges and adversaries, so that he could focus on his own game. Let's accept it, Cook's focus and/or form is not going to get any better at this situation, particularly when there are doubts and a general sense of Macbethian guilt and culpability in the England dressing room. Cook and his masters in ECB are also likely to loose the series against India, who are also very keen to avail this rare opportunity of winning an away series in England. The only way to wash the blood off the hands, and help Cook and these new young cricketers in Roots, Robson, Balance, Jordan and Ali is get to KP back. KP is also lost and purposeless without the team. The team needs his bravery and influence.

  • POSTED BY on | June 24, 2014, 9:52 GMT

    Bury the EGOS. Get KP back, runs will flow for England again. Believe me..

  • POSTED BY jb633 on | June 24, 2014, 9:44 GMT

    It's sad to say but I see no positives about English cricket right now. I can't see any end in sight because we have no spinners coming through and you can't play cricket in this age without them. Our batsmen in turn will not be learning how to play against good spin and we are going to lose against Bangladesh and the WI as soon as we play in their back yard. Cook is a huge short term worry. he has been found out tecnically and his captaincy is the worst in world cricket. Aus could whitewash us again next year by an even greater margin. We are really that bad right now. There needs to be an inquest into why we are just not producing good quality young cricketers. IMO too much stall is payed to academy development rather than letting guys learn the craft on their own by playing good level club cricket for 2 years.

  • POSTED BY ceyloncric on | June 24, 2014, 9:25 GMT

    I loved to watch Cook as a batsmen in the past.He is a re-active captain, not a pro-active one.....I hope England get their wrongs righted before their great cricket loving public abandons them!

  • POSTED BY Beertjie on | June 24, 2014, 8:56 GMT

    Sack Cook as skipper and replace him with Broad. Bell doesn't have the nous for the job. Broad is not lovable but just possibly he might effect a turn-around. Worth a try sooner rather than later.

  • POSTED BY on | June 24, 2014, 8:54 GMT

    cook has to go,he stands there in slips, picking his spots and looking for all the world as though he is in a trance.he is no captain and whoever thought he was should go as well.the SL have shown that england are second rate at the moment and heads have to roll and new players brought in to start again!. as for the poor attendence,in yorkshire a lot of people just cannot afford the high prices for a ticket.simple!

  • POSTED BY Bansam on | June 24, 2014, 8:28 GMT

    Being a Sri Lankan fan I didn't like the comments made by Cook on the mankading issue and was also not in favour of getting KP out. But amatch which turned against England is no reason to sacrifice a captain or change captains after every loss. Cook was a good captain and England should keep him on and give him a chance against India. Also patching up differences with KP and getting back him on the team will definitely work for England.

  • POSTED BY St.John on | June 24, 2014, 7:57 GMT

    Bells last statement sort of borders on the paradoxical...On one hand he sort of regrets a 2 match series, while on the other he forgets they had played a longer series against Sri Lanka this tour and still lost.(5 match ODI's) Its also ironic that he speaks negatively of a 2 match series when his own Board haughtily condescended to give SL just a 2 match series.

  • POSTED BY Bagirathan on | June 24, 2014, 7:44 GMT

    Cook's captaincy and his batting form declined after his anti KP actions. He is responsible for loosing this series due to his captaincy, one of which was at Lords, where he should have declared at least 30 min before end of play on the 4th day.Lets get KP and England will be back in top. Also Bopara should be in the team as an allrounder.

  • POSTED BY Big_Chikka on | June 24, 2014, 7:41 GMT

    the debate rages on...cook good captain? bad captain? i'd leave him to deal with the indian series...he and his family are after all just the type of people giles clarke likes...and that makes all the difference...can't see paul dowton disagreeing can you?

  • POSTED BY niazbhi on | June 24, 2014, 7:37 GMT

    A lot of test captains are complicating the captaincy job. Its fairly simple... keep doing what works. For example if you have had Moeen Ali taken wickets do not wait 40 overs to hand him the balll because you need give 10 overs to each pacers two of which did not get any wicket. The one did not get wicket is less likely to get... Arguing against nature is not going to work. Trying to understand why a tall bowler like Broad did not get wicket and why a part time spinner did...is not going to work..empirical analysis... if you have a bowler who gets wickets almost every time you give him the ball... he can be exception.. (thats one bowler may be two at most). Even Anderson is not quite that bowler. So stick with what works... Its not only Cook. Almost all modern captains want to be a wizard... they end up not acking the nature..not accepting it.. fighting it and loosing it...

  • POSTED BY PrasPunter on | June 24, 2014, 6:56 GMT

    KP must be laughing his heart out seeing this carnage. Eng does deserve this for all the arrogance they displayed in handling the KP affair. Not too late !! Bite the bullet and recall KP !! For he seems the only option to lead Eng out of this chaos.

  • POSTED BY on | June 24, 2014, 6:27 GMT

    @ Tissa Senaratne: criticising alistair cook's captaincy and man management is not the same as citicisin of him as a man and a husband. that would be off limits - as a cricketer, though, paid extremely well to do his job, he is fair game. giving up the captaincy could make him a goiod batsman again; who knows? we can't all be angelo matthews and actually improve as a batsman by being given the captaincy

  • POSTED BY android_user on | June 24, 2014, 6:21 GMT

    @Tissa Senaratne- Then why Dhoni was criticised and still being criticised for the 2011 debacle in England? Face it, Everyone has to go through this phase, there's no point whining abt it. He just needs to bat well to shut his critics or nothing else can save Cook from this scrutiny.. If Dhoni can be criticised then Cook is no different, Dhoni lost games so is Cook..

  • POSTED BY rezmata on | June 24, 2014, 6:02 GMT

    The ECB is going to find it hard to find a new captain. Since Bell thinks Cook is a great captain - Bell will be Cook-2.

  • POSTED BY gracegift on | June 24, 2014, 6:02 GMT

    Alistair is a fantastic batsman, but like Tendulkar, a poor captain. He needs to be relieved of the captaincy, and KP reinstated. Bell, Anderson or Broad can be tried out as Captain, IMO. Replace Buttler for Prior, and Bell needs to open the batting with Cook.

  • POSTED BY SirBobJones on | June 24, 2014, 5:39 GMT

    I *think* I agree with Sexysteven, bit hard to tell though due to a complete absence of fullstops. Agree with Bell backing his captain, not so much with his call about the test being lost. Always back your team and never say die, gotta learn that before he's made captain.

  • POSTED BY cheatsdontprosper on | June 24, 2014, 5:39 GMT

    @ Lasitha_SL Dude how is it any ones FAULT BUT Sri Lankan cricket board if they REALLY WANTED Mr Farbrace then WHY did they only give him a TEMP - CASUAL contract ?? you can't moan at England for your Boards Decisions. Cook needs to THINK of his team mates and STEP DOWN from Captaincy UNTIL he gets his Batting Technique sorted out , just as Chandimal did for SL he dropped himself because he felt he was in BAD FORM, A HINT there COOK !!!!!!!!! All Cook is doing by Staying on as Captain is PILE the Pressure on his team - take a back step COOK for your Teams Sake !!!! I for one think Cook has been one of the Best England Captains EVER , but he needs to take time out to relieve the Captaincy pressure then he can try to get his FORM BACK.

  • POSTED BY PrasPunter on | June 24, 2014, 5:31 GMT

    You know what, this fragile Eng team will be beaten by india and their media will start to write about how they have written a new chapter in the history of cricket and all those stuff.

  • POSTED BY PrasPunter on | June 24, 2014, 5:28 GMT

    Looks like Eng has been shaken to the core by the white-wash down under !! Their descendance is way too fast and furious on proportions certainly unthinkable and unimaginable some 7 months ago. Tough times ahead !!

  • POSTED BY notimeforcricket on | June 24, 2014, 5:15 GMT

    On one point he is right. If 2 top order batsmen are in, you try to dismiss both of them. why then, if 1 top order batsman and 1 tailender are in do you giv the top order batsman easy runs and try to get the tailender on strike. madness. surely it is best to keep the intensity high and attack both. On the england team, I suspect Moeen is as good as any other spin option we have so he can play as a bowling allrounder. today will tell us much about how viable he is as a test batsman. Cook needs a break. a well timed hamstring injury would be good now to get him out of the firing line for a couple of games

  • POSTED BY Lasitha_SL on | June 24, 2014, 5:00 GMT

    Don't worry fans, ECB is so rich they can afford to import a captain from anywhere in the world, they wanted a assitant coach they got the Sri lankan team coach just before the series. I'm sure they'll get some one form somewhere :). I guess an aussie one from down under would be the ideal

  • POSTED BY on | June 24, 2014, 4:41 GMT

    Will everybody pls stop hitting the man when he is already down ? Its not as if the vultures are already circling above the fallen guy but all the crows are also coming down to have a bite as well

    He is out of form, He is down, He is criticized by all, he is doubting himself & he is being doubted by his team mates as well, his every decision is being scrutinized & analysed by a microscope by everyone it seems & help him god if one of those decisions he made doesn't go according to plan...then all hell is let loose on him by everyone

    Enough pls !!!

  • POSTED BY on | June 24, 2014, 4:16 GMT

    bell is just being a good little soldier, as he has been for 100 tests. cook wanted a side he could run, filled with yes-men who wouldn't cause waves. consequently he froze out his best batsman and treated a gifted left-arm spinner very badly in australia. god knows why the battery of tall fast bowlers on tour were such a miserable failure in the nets as well. technicaly he is a poor captain; as a motivator of other players he is obviously a wash-out. and so a side without much bowling is going to win a series in england for the first time, and well done sri lanka. in matthews they have a captain, and a player, who is everything cook is not - dedicated, imaginative and soon successful. the one good thing to come out of this lost series will be cook resigning as captain, to be replaced by ... whom? another cardboard captain of the previous one, or someone who can bring back the hunger for success so missing at the moment?

  • POSTED BY Sexysteven on | June 24, 2014, 3:38 GMT

    As much as I like bell I can't believe what I just read looks like we r going to lose this game omg what kind of a attitude is that if u think that then there's no hope for England root Ali prior Jordan and broad can all bat bell isn't giving them confidence by saying that that attitude has ruled bell out of captaining England I would take the gloves off prior give the captaincy and bat him at five bell to three root or Morgan at four stokes at six butler at seven Jordan or plunkett at eight broad nine the spinner at ten Anderson at eleven of course cook n robson to open that's what I would do to sort England out then there's compititon for places again and u pic the inform players and those that miss out can keep the pressure on the selected players and keep them honest therefore the good form will come back and so will the wins

  • POSTED BY KingOwl on | June 24, 2014, 2:45 GMT

    I sort of feel sorry for England. They have such a talented bowling attack in these conditions. Sure, Mathews is hugely talented and he batted exceptionally well. But, I can't understand why England would lose complete control like this. I am not happy with England because they thought they could have bodyline techniques and win against SL. I think England should understand that SL are not India. SL players play the short ball well and they are great at pulling. It was not lack of English talent, but wrong tactics. So, Bell is wrong in the main point he is making here.

  • POSTED BY SoyQuearns on | June 24, 2014, 2:36 GMT

    CONT'D - In all, Cook amounts to about 2 good series in more than 100 Tests, and I always knew he'd crash back down, but I just hadn't figured in my wildest dreams that he'd fall so hopelessly, rapidly and spectacularly.

    KP must be thrilled, and fair play to him.

    Enjoy your pitfall England, don't let the door from real superpower cricket nations hit your backside as you continue your hopeless fall.

    It is impossible for England to imagine trying to replace 15 world-class greats within a 5-year period (as they've had 2 greats in the last 25 years in KP and Botham, and we all know how they handled KP), but it is truly enjoyable to see their fans squirm now.

    You had to replace 1 great player (well, actually, you chose to replace him) and your slide is quicker, scarier and more resounding than even Aus' was, and that was a purely understandable 5-year period of rebalance.

    Enjoy. Kind regards from 'way above you'.

  • POSTED BY SoyQuearns on | June 24, 2014, 2:31 GMT

    England's troubles are extremely deep here. Their new faces have all played well and yet they are going to lose to SL at home.

    Forget Mitch Johnson at home, you can't even handle Angelo Matthew's (career average before this test was 71 with ball) and Prasad (career average before this test was 59 with ball).

    This merely reinforces the point that England weren't 'tired' in Australia, they were horrible and played their best side.

    To all those who threw around boring and predictable '10 tests in a row wore us out' nonsense I'll say this - Australia played just the same amount and actually played the exact same 11 men 5 tests in a row. That's fatigue.

    Cook is horrible, and it is pleasing to see that even the most biased and stubborn English fans no longer dare compare him with actual great batsmen like Michael Clarke, Hashim Amla, it's simply too ridiculous.

    CONT'D

  • POSTED BY on | June 24, 2014, 2:12 GMT

    @Toyohashi Exactly! At the Basin New Zealand were left with 3 days left in the match with 5 wickets down, but did they give up? No, they put their all into stretching India and played perhaps the most epic draw in the history of Test cricket. The rest of the English batting (but mostly Root, Ali and Prior) need to put their backs up to the wall for one day - just one day! - because this game has not gone yet. This is not an impossible task for England, but it will be of immense credit to them if they can save this test. If they show such guts to save this match, it will give the team hope to get out of this rut they're in.

  • POSTED BY crying_game on | June 24, 2014, 2:02 GMT

    @Toyohashi..Glad you mentioned it. "Looks like we are going to lose this test"stood out shockingly for me. As much as it may be the most probable condition, I have never heard anyone stating it. Negative, and more so considering the fact teams have fought hard on last days recently.

  • POSTED BY on | June 24, 2014, 2:00 GMT

    Nice one, Wapuser! :-)

    Bell's defense of Cook's captaincy is as poor as his own recent form. Cook should be dropped. And if Jimmy Anderson cannot rediscover his old form, he too should be dropped. Too many tall poppies in the England side.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | June 24, 2014, 1:59 GMT

    Bell is just defending his captain but in reality Cook's tactics were all wrong, He allowed Mathews to set up a partnership with Herath.. Ali should have come onto ball right when Herath came to the crease.. An off-spinner against a left hander at the start of his innings could have been a difficult proposition but Cook persisted with faster bowlers.. Cook no doubt is out of form but the best way to come to form us grind it in the middle, Don't play any extravagant shot but Cook tried to pull a ball which wasn't that short to pull.. I think his batting has gone haywire bcz of his lacklustre captaincy.. He needs to concentrate on his batting rather than captaincy.. Bell can do that job too.. But you have to praise SL for their absolutely marvelous performance.. They didn't talked much in press conference but their bats and ball did all the talk for them..Feeling really good that a sub-continent team is giving England a hard time "in" England..

  • POSTED BY izzidole on | June 24, 2014, 1:33 GMT

    This England side is virtually a shadow of the team that played last summer minus their stars Pietersen, Swann and Trott. The aussies not only thrashed them 5-0 but also virtually destroyed this England team which may take a long time to mend. No doubt it's going to take a lot of hard work to repair the damage caused to English cricket by the ashes whitewash. Only a miracle can save them from a series defeat in the forthcoming five test series against India. Once again it was their overseas stars aussie born Sam Robson and Zimbabwean Gary Ballance that came to their rescue scoring centuries in the two tests. England can't always bank on overseas talent to prop up their cricket team and the ECB should put in some extra effort to unearth talent in their own backyard. Otherwise very soon they could end up at the bottom of the world cricket rankings in all formats of the game.

  • POSTED BY EdwinD on | June 24, 2014, 1:25 GMT

    If I was in Cook's shoes I would listen to the opinion of the numerous ex-England captain's in the commentary box - one or two who has played under. They are all unequivocal, directly or indirectly in condemning his negative tactics and uninspirational leadership.

  • POSTED BY dunger.bob on | June 24, 2014, 1:21 GMT

    Bell has a point. Even the best captain the game has ever seen (who ever that is) would struggle to make any impact if his bowlers can't bowl, his batsmen can't bat and his fielders can't catch. Throw in worst ever personal form and you're looking at a man who's powerless to stop the rot. .. poor old Cooky. He probably hates cricket right about now.

    I completely agree that conceding to Mathews and concentrating on the player at the other end is a huge tactical mistake but it's one that England has a long history of doing. I've seen it time and time again from every captain they've used since Atherton. .. I don't think that it's a peculiarly Cook trait. Occasionally it actually works as well and then its called a brilliant tactic by all the armchair experts.

    It would be a massive risk to oust Cook now because while he may a part of the problem he's not the sole cause. If he, and the rest of his team, can just simply play better cricket they won't get themselves into these situations

  • POSTED BY stumpedlloyd on | June 24, 2014, 1:18 GMT

    @Twinkie: The reason this is not even a three-test series is because when England last toured Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan cricket board changed a 3-test series to a two-test series, and it was agreed that Sri Lanka would also only play 2 tests in England. If anyone's to blame for this series not going for 3 tests, it would be the Sri Lankan cricket board.

  • POSTED BY on | June 24, 2014, 0:45 GMT

    Saving Private Ryan - Private Ryan must be saved at all costs - an contingent was sent to do that in the middle of the war! ECB seems to be taking similar approval to Cook as a captain! I won't be surprised if Cook is thinking than KP got Matthews to play that innings and it was personal given how scrambled his thinking seemed when he commented on Warne. India realised years back that Tendulkar the player was not worth sacrificing for tendulkar the captain who, in any case, was not the most astute. England may come to same conclusion about Cook. Also hats off to Sri Lanka. They have shown great skills, character and intent in this series. I feel captain cool will be seen wanting in comparison to his Lankan counterpart! Impressed with SL!

  • POSTED BY android_user on | June 24, 2014, 0:28 GMT

    any team want to overcome from defeats,play with india in test in their home backyard, so that every player wil be back in very gud form

  • POSTED BY electric_loco_WAP4 on | June 23, 2014, 23:57 GMT

    This statement by Bell sums up Eng's confused state.Perfect eg. in how to contradict 1self in 2 sentences.

  • POSTED BY 512fm on | June 23, 2014, 23:27 GMT

    Some pretty concerning comments from Bell really, I mean I know it doesn't look good for them but hes basically come out and said that its over. I know its likely but as the vice captain how are the rest of the batsman supposed to respond to that tomorrow. If this is the guy who is next in line for the captaincy I'm afraid England has far more problems ahead of them.

  • POSTED BY wapuser on | June 23, 2014, 22:52 GMT

    Smart move there Belly. Whatever happened to the last player who dared question Cook's abysmal captaincy?

  • POSTED BY malhar1974 on | June 23, 2014, 22:30 GMT

    Bell says Cook got his tactics right but completely contradicts himself by saying

    "But you look back with hindsight and I think if you want to stop someone like that scoring runs you get them out, don't you? You don't just try to stop them scoring."

    I know hindsight is 20/20 but Cook's tactics has proven to be wrong for the last couple of days.

  • POSTED BY Greatest_Game on | June 23, 2014, 22:13 GMT

    Bell is quoted "If this was a five-match series, we could fight our way back in, but we can't."

    Does he mean they can't fight their way back into this series, or they can't fight their way back into a 5 match series. There is of course recent, empirical evidence on the 5 mach series supposition, and judging by today's play, by lunch tomorrow he will be proven right about this series too!

  • POSTED BY xylo on | June 23, 2014, 22:00 GMT

    of course! if the captaincy/man-management is a point of contention, they might be shown the door.

  • POSTED BY Toyohashi on | June 23, 2014, 21:53 GMT

    "It looks like we're going to lose this Test" - I didn't know sports players ever said that. What happened to positive thinking? In this position, NZ would still say they had a game on!

  • POSTED BY __PK on | June 23, 2014, 21:50 GMT

    He criticised Cook's tactics, but is somehow defending his captaincy...?

  • POSTED BY Twinkie on | June 23, 2014, 21:48 GMT

    Whose fault is it that it's not a five match series? I guess the ECB expected England to win the series in two matches. Sri Lanka, they probably thought, is not worthy of five test matches.

    PS. What does Bell mean that Sri Lanka was probably lucky to hang on in the1st test? Didn't Herath give himself out when he wasn't out? From his innings today one can see that he just might have been able to come in not out. Exactly what constitutes luck? Rather I thought that England was actually lucky to get most of the close decisions going its way.

  • POSTED BY Kays789 on | June 23, 2014, 21:30 GMT

    Sangakkara's 192 in Hobart comes to mind as another monumentally epic knock by a sri lankan while playing with the tail. While that knock may have been marginally better this ton by Mathews may well be the more crucial one if it results in a win tomorrow.

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  • POSTED BY Kays789 on | June 23, 2014, 21:30 GMT

    Sangakkara's 192 in Hobart comes to mind as another monumentally epic knock by a sri lankan while playing with the tail. While that knock may have been marginally better this ton by Mathews may well be the more crucial one if it results in a win tomorrow.

  • POSTED BY Twinkie on | June 23, 2014, 21:48 GMT

    Whose fault is it that it's not a five match series? I guess the ECB expected England to win the series in two matches. Sri Lanka, they probably thought, is not worthy of five test matches.

    PS. What does Bell mean that Sri Lanka was probably lucky to hang on in the1st test? Didn't Herath give himself out when he wasn't out? From his innings today one can see that he just might have been able to come in not out. Exactly what constitutes luck? Rather I thought that England was actually lucky to get most of the close decisions going its way.

  • POSTED BY __PK on | June 23, 2014, 21:50 GMT

    He criticised Cook's tactics, but is somehow defending his captaincy...?

  • POSTED BY Toyohashi on | June 23, 2014, 21:53 GMT

    "It looks like we're going to lose this Test" - I didn't know sports players ever said that. What happened to positive thinking? In this position, NZ would still say they had a game on!

  • POSTED BY xylo on | June 23, 2014, 22:00 GMT

    of course! if the captaincy/man-management is a point of contention, they might be shown the door.

  • POSTED BY Greatest_Game on | June 23, 2014, 22:13 GMT

    Bell is quoted "If this was a five-match series, we could fight our way back in, but we can't."

    Does he mean they can't fight their way back into this series, or they can't fight their way back into a 5 match series. There is of course recent, empirical evidence on the 5 mach series supposition, and judging by today's play, by lunch tomorrow he will be proven right about this series too!

  • POSTED BY malhar1974 on | June 23, 2014, 22:30 GMT

    Bell says Cook got his tactics right but completely contradicts himself by saying

    "But you look back with hindsight and I think if you want to stop someone like that scoring runs you get them out, don't you? You don't just try to stop them scoring."

    I know hindsight is 20/20 but Cook's tactics has proven to be wrong for the last couple of days.

  • POSTED BY wapuser on | June 23, 2014, 22:52 GMT

    Smart move there Belly. Whatever happened to the last player who dared question Cook's abysmal captaincy?

  • POSTED BY 512fm on | June 23, 2014, 23:27 GMT

    Some pretty concerning comments from Bell really, I mean I know it doesn't look good for them but hes basically come out and said that its over. I know its likely but as the vice captain how are the rest of the batsman supposed to respond to that tomorrow. If this is the guy who is next in line for the captaincy I'm afraid England has far more problems ahead of them.

  • POSTED BY electric_loco_WAP4 on | June 23, 2014, 23:57 GMT

    This statement by Bell sums up Eng's confused state.Perfect eg. in how to contradict 1self in 2 sentences.