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George Dobell at Headingley
June 24, 2014
Cook: I'm not a quitter
Alastair Cook has insisted he has no intention of resigning the England captaincy despite his side slipping to the first home series defeat in their history against Sri Lanka.
Under Cook's captaincy, England are now without a win in eight successive Tests - six of which they have lost - which is their worst run since 1996-97. They have also dropped two places to fifth in the Test rankings.
Cook's own batting form is also causing concern. Since the start of the 2013 Ashes series, he has played 12 Tests and batted 24 times without making a century. In that period he has averaged just 25.04.
But, asked about his position after England slipped to a 100-run defeat against Sri Lanka at Headingley, Cook was adamant that, unless the ECB decide to sack him, he will not step down.
"I've never quit on anything I've done," Cook said. "I've given it my all, all the time. Every 104 games I've played for England, I've left everything out there
"It's the same situation here. Until that moment somebody tells me they don't want me to be captain, I'll still be here. I'm incredibly proud to be England captain. I've been selected to do it.
"If someone decides I'm not the right person for the job and the results don't justify me doing it, then fine. But until that moment, I'm desperate to try to turn English cricket around."
Cook conceded, however, that his batting form was a concern and accepted that the pressure on him to justify his place in the side was mounting.
"No one's guaranteed a place in this England team," he said. "You've seen with the young players around now, they're pushing for places. That's the way it should always be.
"When you're not batting well, you start to look at a few things technically. I'm sure there's something not quite right there I can work on.
"With runs at the moment hard to come by, it does put more pressure on me. I think I've got to go back to what I've done in the past. Bowlers do get tired. I've got to be so strong mentally and let them come to my areas, I believe. But it comes down to being mentally strong at the crease. I've done it in the past. I've just got to drag that mental strength out again.
"It's an incredibly tough challenge, a tough job, there's no doubt about it, especially opening the batting."
While Cook accepted that aspects of England's play in this game - especially their batting and bowling on the fourth day - had fallen well below standard, he did find some encouragement in the performances of some of the younger players. During the match both Sam Robson and Moeen Ali hit their maiden Test hundreds.
"I don't think you can fault any of the guys with the way they've played on the final day," he said. "We lost this Test match with a really bad day yesterday. We had one of our worst days, with both bat and ball, and lost this game because of it.
"Obviously, as a captain, you are responsible. We didn't bowl very well. It wasn't for lack of trying. We knew we had to bowl that fuller length. We knew what we were trying to do, but we just didn't get it right.
"If you look at the whole series, I think we probably had the better of eight, maybe seven, of the 10 days.
"With the fifth ball of the last day of the first Test, it was taken away from us and with the fifth ball of the last over, we've lost this Test match.
"It doesn't change the fact we've lost the series. But I think it would be wrong to look at it as such a negative series, just because we lost it.
"We've seen some amazing things from some young players who've come in, and announced themselves in international cricket. It was an incredible effort on the final day, with Moeen's hundred. To play like he played, for a free-flowing batsman to be so controlled, measured and calm under that pressure can only bode well for the future.
"But we can't look past the fact that, in this game, we were 300 for 3, with a lead of 60, and we haven't been able to nail Sri Lanka down. We should have got more than 360. We needed 450, 500 on that wicket. That's what's cost us."
It was noticeable on the final day that several of England's batsmen, notably Matt Prior and Joe Root, struggled against the short ball. But while Cook admitted that a hangover from Australia, and the beating that England took at the hands of Mitchell Johnson in particular, might still be affecting some players, he took comfort in the obvious pain that defeat caused his players, suggesting it showed the passion that remained within his side. James Anderson, who battled for more than 20 overs as part of the tenth-wicket stand with Moeen, was in tears at the post-match ceremony.
"Probably what happened over the winter is still there, getting hammered in Australia," Cook said. "There is that lasting effect, even with a different side. It's still the England side.
"But you saw Jimmy, right at the end. I think that just shows to everybody who doesn't really know us as blokes what it means to us to play for England.
"You sometimes get accused of not caring that much, especially when things don't go that well. But that was the raw emotion to a guy who has put everything into 83 minutes of batting. If it was 84, we'd be sitting here with a smile on our faces."
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: George Dobell
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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