England to look at selection - Cook
Alastair Cook admitted England would have to reflect on the selection of their side after succumbing to a nine-wicket loss against India in the first Test in Ahmedabad.
England's bowling attack, with three frontline seamers and one specialist spinner, looked ill-suited for a Test played on a low, slow wicket, with the seamers claiming 1 for 254 in the match.
Their batsmen also struggled and, in eight innings between them, England's middle-order of Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell and Samit Patel contributed just 68 runs. By contrast, Cheteshwar Pujara scored 247 runs in the match without being dismissed and India's two spinners claimed 13 wickets between them.
While Cook admitted the problem, in part, was simply that several players had underperformed, he also conceded that the team management would have to reconsider the make-up and balance of the side ahead of the second Test which begins in Mumbai on Friday.
"Clearly we're going to have to look at our selection," Cook said. "There are some good people making decisions in this England team and we thought we were doing the right thing for the side. The result showed we might have got it wrong. When you get beaten by nine wickets, you have a look at a lot of areas and we have to look at what we could have done better. There will be a lot to ponder. We'll have to look at our squad for the next game."
The omission of left-arm spinner Monty Panesar has been highlighted as a key error by many critics but Cook felt the failure of England's batting line-up in the first innings was more of an issue. He refuted any suggestion that England had been underprepared, but accepted that they would require far more of the team to contribute if they were to fight their way back in the series.
"Our batting, especially in the first innings, didn't deliver enough runs," Cook said. "I thought it was a very good cricket wicket. There was a little bit in it for the spinners, but if you applied yourself with the bat it held together probably better than we thought it would. It was turning, yes. But runs were able to be had out there, as we showed in our second innings.
"If we're going to win out here, everyone in the game has to contribute. We need everyone to stick their hands up at certain times. The lads who haven't performed as well as they would have liked in this game will be very disappointed. We showed a lot of character in that second half of the game. There are a lot of quality players in that dressing-room, with very good records who have scored hundreds against every attack in the world. They didn't deliver in this game, and they know that. The middle order didn't score enough runs. Everyone has to have a look at themselves if we want to take something out of this series."
The defeat means England have lost five out of six Tests in Asian conditions this year, leaving Cook to agree that mental scars might be as large an impediment to progress as technical deficiencies. "I'd say it's a bit of both. Clearly, there are always technical issues before the mental ones kick in. We're doing the right things. It's now getting it right out in the middle and trusting our method there. We can only continue working as hard as we are doing, and I can't fault the lads for that. It's a case of working as hard as we can in the nets, and trusting our method out in the middle."
Cook also said the result had soured the memory of one of his finest innings. "I'm very happy with the way I batted," he said. "To score any hundred for England is very special and to score one in that situation probably made it even more special for me.
"Technically, it might have been a good innings. But you always get more satisfaction when you do it in a winning cause or to save a game. Maybe the 230 in Brisbane, in a similar match situation, is a better innings. But the result is what really matters and we weren't good enough over the five days to win. I'd have been even prouder if I'd survived and dragged a draw out of it. I'm bitterly disappointed."
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo