Australia v England, 3rd Test, Perth, 5th day December 17, 2013

Cook faces up to senior players' failure


Alastair Cook admitted to the "lowest moment" of his career as England slumped to Ashes defeat in Perth and said several members of his side would be "playing for their future" in the remaining two games of the series.

The England captain said conceding a 3-0 lead in the five-match series "hurts like hell" and described the dressing room as "a tough place to be". It is Cook's first series loss as captain and England's first Ashes loss in four series stretching back to 2006-07.

But while accepting that "inquests" into the defeat were inevitable, Cook appealed for calm before conclusions are made about the reasons for the loss. In particular, Cook was keen to defend Andy Flower and refuted any suggestion that the England coach should step down.

"I want him to carry on," Cook said. "He's an outstanding coach and an outstanding person. He's a great person to have around, especially for me, as a captain and the advice he gives me. It's not down to him why we've lost this. It's down to the fact we haven't had enough players in form."

Cook, who has averaged just 26.93 in his last eight Tests against Australia, also reasserted his determination to continue as captain, though he accepted he needed to reflect on some of his tactics and that there would be "people questioning my place".

"There's always going to be theories," he said. "There's always going to be inquests when you lose. The simple fact of the matter is we haven't had enough players in form with either bat or ball. People in the dressing room know that.

"It's a tough place my batting. I'm putting the work in but not quite getting the results. You can see the feet aren't always going in the right place. I've had a couple of very good balls as well, which doesn't help. And when I have got in at Brisbane and here, I haven't gone on to make a bigger score.

"But I don't think the captaincy is affecting my batting. There's always a strain, but the challenge of being a captain is trying to deal with it. I can honestly say that when I go out there as a batter, I'm thinking as a batter. My mind is not thinking about what's going on elsewhere.

"Of course, if other people who make the decisions don't think that way, we have to go by that decision. When you lose the Ashes in the way we've lost, there will always be people questioning my place and all that kind of stuff. That's the first place you always look when you lose. As a captain, the buck stops with you. I have to look at am I managing the players right? Am I doing the right things out in the middle? We have to have some honest chats."

Cook also defended his players, despite admitting that several senior figures had endured undistinguished series and that many would be playing for their futures in the remaining two games of the series.

"The first thing you do when you lose is look at the hunger and the desire. I can honestly say in our dressing room, both are there. We just haven't had the skills to match it. Sport is not about trying at all; it's about delivering. We know we tried as hard as we could and we haven't delivered.

"It's not just Anderson and Swann who haven't performed. A lot of us senior batters haven't performed as well. It's incredibly frustrating - I know as a batter when you're not delivering what you're capable of - there's not a worse place to be as a player.

"I'll never feel let down by any of the lads that go out there and put on an England shirt. I look into their eyes and I see what they do in training. The way they go about their business and the effort, you don't see all that.

"I'm never going to be embarrassed. We haven't been good enough, that's the reason we lost. I'll never be embarrassed for the way we go about things and the effort the lads put in. It's a hard thing to say when you've been beaten and you deserve to get beaten. It's never good to admit it, but we have.

"When you lose, or even when you win, there's so many good players around in England wanting to be in the 11 spots we presently hold. So we are always playing for our future. There's always a balancing act with sides when you lose with trying to introduce new players. Are they better than the players you have?"

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on December 19, 2013, 22:57 GMT

    I agree with HaddockinOz - Obviously the senior England players are way out of knick, but why bring 3 towering quicks and leave out inform Onions and express pace Mills and not even give them a run on the quick wickets? It's the younger batsmen like Root & Stokes who've really been the only ones to actually contribute, so why not blood the quick bowlers too? England selectors, for once you've stuffed up royally.

  • ian on December 19, 2013, 11:26 GMT

    Flower's time as England's head coach has been characterised by stability. The side only changed when an injury, an abs for other reasons, or prospective conditions demanded something different. Those days are history; there is no sense in sending out a beaten team for the final two Tests. Stokes has shown his worth & that should encourage Flower & Cook to use the dead rubber to find out about Bairstow, Rankin & Ballance. The viewpoint must change radically. The priority now must be the future & so the team for Boxing Day must present Clarke's men with a new set of challenges. In batting order, I'd like to see: Cook, Carberry, Bell, Ballance/Root, or viceversa, Stokes, Bairstow, Bresnan, Broad, Anderson & Rankin. If Broad isn't fit, then Tremlett returns to the scene of one of his best ever matches three years ago. Swann is, I'm afraid, a busted flush & Panesar is not likely to get much out of the G, besides being a liability in the field. Let's face it, there's nothing to lose now.

  • Andy on December 19, 2013, 9:28 GMT

    England's problem was gifting their wickets away at the top order by playing injudicious cross-bat shots, exposing middle and lower order to Johnson before he'd blown himself out. When you look at it, Johnson wasn't hitting the wickets much more than he did four years ago. Only 10 out of 229 deliveries at Brisbane were on target!

    And England does have a left-arm bowler as quick as Johnson in Tymal Mills (imported from sunny Suffolk) , who is out here and should have played, at least at Perth. But England selection is so muddled that they didn't even pick any of Finn, Tremlett or Rankin, never mind Mills. So Australia had the pace bowling bragging rights - and the associated sledging rights - do themselves. Poor thinking England.

    The 2015 tour of England will be interesting, given the ages and physical conditions of many of the current Aussie team.

  • I on December 18, 2013, 20:25 GMT

    @dunger.bob When did Australia win 4 World Cups in a row?

  • David on December 18, 2013, 20:22 GMT

    It would be a mistake to introduce young players into the cauldron which is the boxing day test. There will be a massive hostile crowd and it could damage a young player for life to be exposed to that kind of pressure too soon. Far better I think to allow the senior players to risk humiliation again. After all they got England into this mess, it is up to them to get us out of it or risk ending their careers with this tour.

  • Colin on December 18, 2013, 18:44 GMT

    We have to be realistic to our failings: our senior players, all of whom have good and sometimes excellent records have been found wanting but overblown sweeping changes are a step too far. Swann was poor but he has been excellent and we have nothing better, KP too and a few others. Better still to face facts that the Aussies were far better this series. More focused and more resolute. MJ is a good example. He has been much maligned due to his erratic previous form but he came back like a champion. Many of the Aussies have suffered lots of recent failure and losses and are now lorded as the next big thing. Indias much vaunted batting has looked abject more than once. We'll be fine. Regroup, rethink and come back stronger!

  • Arul on December 18, 2013, 11:44 GMT

    England had been winning, that kind of made them complacent without them noticing. Australia on the other hand, after loosing to Eng and Ind, they are determined to prove and play up to their potential. International cricket is not for nothing, all are talented. Sometimes one play well than the other. Dont be too harsh on England. Aussies must be given credit for doing well.

  • Dummy4 on December 18, 2013, 10:44 GMT

    It would be better to have Rahul coaching the batsmen rather than Gooch who has seen more Ashes failures than sucess

  • Patrick on December 18, 2013, 10:35 GMT

    Appropriately contrite to question the places of senior players but that's the worst thing Eng could do! Eng need to move Bell up to 3 and win a toss and we'll have a game on our hands again. Aust booted/overlooked Katich, Hadds, Hodge, put unnecessary pressure on Ponting & Hussey, and it took us to the brink of oblivion. Eng have never looked better this series than when Bell & KP have been at the crease. Root's amazing for his age, 12 based on his profile pic, give the kid a fighting chance by locking him in at 5-6 for a year to learn the game. Restore some moisture and bounce to English test pitches, find 3 decent bowlers and there you Eng your back on your way to competing on more than dry dusty wickets.

  • rob on December 18, 2013, 9:24 GMT

    @Andrew Edgington : "'Hey, what am I doing here? I've beaten this lot 3 times since 2009, what do I need to prove?' " : I've heard some things like that a few times now and it always leaves me flabbergasted. Let me explain. If you had won this series it would have been 4 series in a row. I don't think England's ever done that, or if they have it would be very rare I'd say .. So, in some very real ways this was a chance for these players to earn themselves a lofty position in English cricketing history. The team that jammed it into the Aussies 4 Ashes running.

    Looking back a few years to 2005 we were shooting for our 9th when you derailed us. We were peeved because we wanted to make it 10 or more in a row.

    It must be a fundamental difference between our two countries because we're never satisfied with beating you guys 3 or 4 times. We'd make it a permanent arrangement if we could. It's the same sort of spirit that won us 4 World Cups in a row. I doubt England has that in them.

  • No featured comments at the moment.