Australia v England, 4th Test, Melbourne, 4th day December 29, 2013

Cook commits to England captaincy

25

Alastair Cook insisted he was "100% wanting to carry on" as England captain but was obliged to defend his senior players, the side's coaches and his own position in the aftermath of defeat in Melbourne.

The England captain, leading a side that is 4-0 down and in danger of succumbing to a whitewash, has failed to score a century in nine Tests against Australia over the last six months and has seemed unable to inspire his team to lift their performances in the current series.

But Cook, who led England to victory in India and Ashes success in England in his first 12 months in the job, claimed his appetite for the job was as strong as ever and reiterated his faith in the side's senior players and coaching staff.

"I'm 100% wanting to carry on," Cook said. "I'm enjoying the job and I'm enjoying the challenge. I've got no plans of going anywhere. I'm desperately trying to use as much as my experience of playing 100 Tests to help turn this team around.

"If, at the end of the series the selectors decide I'm not the best man for the job then so be it. If someone makes that decision, and says 'we think there's a better man' or 'you're not good enough to do it' then it would hurt but, I would have to take that on the chin.

"We've some very good players in our dressing room. We've some record-breaking players who will have some fantastic days left in an England shirt. I know that for sure. And we'll be praising them when they do that.

"I'm fully supportive of our coaching staff. We've had some fantastic results. It wasn't so long ago we won in India with this same coaching staff, against Australia with the same coaching staff."

"They're decisions which can be made later and down the line. That's why people higher up than me are paid money to make those decisions. If they think that's the way to go - with all those decisions, captain, coach, whatever - then that's the way it is.

"We can only concentrate on what we do from now, trying to regroup and put in a performance in Sydney."

While accepting that back-to-back Ashes series had proved quite a burden for the players, something Kevin Pietersen spoke about on Saturday, Cook dismissed the notion that it could excuse their poor performances.

"I think 10 back-to-back Test matches is a big ask," he said. "But the bottom line is it's the same for both sides and one side has handled it a lot better than the other side. They are playing some better cricket now than we are. To use that as an excuse would be wrong.

"When we left England, we had high hopes of doing something very special. I did say at the time, we'd have to play some very good cricket if we wanted to achieve that and we haven't done that. The bottom line is we haven't been good enough."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • RohanMarkJay on December 30, 2013, 14:47 GMT

    This is the right way forward. Captain and Coach if they are allowed to stay on by the management should stay on.England team players and Captain and coach. Have the next five months off.So they can go and rethink and reflect on the Australian tour. Meanwhile Australia has a tough assignment in South Africa. If Australia perform poorly there or get beaten by South Africa. Then we will know it is the same weak Aussie side before the Ashes.No doubt coach Flower and Captain and players will be watching with great interest how Australia go in South Africa. Because everyone would now like to know how good this Australian side actually are and wether Ashes 2013/14 was a flash in the pan. Australia peformed very well in their own backyard. However the next Ashes is in 2015. England can well feel confident of winning the Ashes next time. England play much better in England than they do in Australia. Captain and Coach therefore are doing the right thing in staying on and build a new team 2015.

  • Dielo on December 30, 2013, 11:27 GMT

    Warne got into Cook's head with his comments of being unimaginative and too defensive. From then on then he was basically fulfilling Warne's prophecy always looking confused and second guessing himself. Can't believe he's the same guy who captained England to an Ashes triumph just earlier this year.

  • SirBobJones on December 30, 2013, 10:13 GMT

    I think people are over-estimating the difference the captain would make to that team...some sort of Brearley/Fleming/Tubby Taylor hybrid would still be down 4-0. Cook deserves to stay, and at least should have experience under a different coach (if Flower goes) before playing on under Bell or whoever else gets put in that position. I haven't seen much T20 but if Broad is any good tactically, make him test skipper too, would make for amusing viewing watching him give the opposing captain a serve at the coin toss.

  • zxaar on December 30, 2013, 7:30 GMT

    I think the real culprit is KP. Ever since he mentioned that Cook will break Tendulkar's records, Cook's form has taken big drop. Pressure of emulating Tendulkar has got him.

  • Biggus on December 30, 2013, 5:52 GMT

    Good to hear Alastair, so you'll still be Captain when we turn up in the Old Dart to contest the Ashes? Terribly sporting of you Old Chap, we couldn't wish for more. Best Christmas present ever!

  • Manush on December 30, 2013, 3:08 GMT

    Cook as an opener is OK but not as a captain. His very defensive approach and lack of imagination and vibrancy, in the field cost them the series. Further he and the coach did not read the symptoms even in the previous series. Both should go gracefully.With much fanfare they took 4 tall pace bowlers to suit Australian pitches and backed Bresnan who is a misfit for the challenge. Anderson the leader in the past did not live up to his reputation. Only Pietersen and to some extent Cook showed their class but due to the team's poor show could not dominate after some good starts.The team selection was poor. Cook will do well if he leaves the captaincy to somebody and for Flower it is time to go.

  • SvenTent on December 30, 2013, 1:36 GMT

    Providing there is someone in the England setup to help Cook analyse his captaincy flaws, he deserves an opportunity to show he has learned from this ill-fated tour before he is cast aside without a standout successor.

  • elvis57 on December 30, 2013, 0:12 GMT

    Not sure that there are any potential replacements, but Cook's captaincy in this test was absolutely woeful.

  • Viswasam on December 29, 2013, 23:44 GMT

    Not sure exactly what "group management" has to do with captaincy. In it's simplest form, it is getting the troops together and finding a way to win. I am not convinced that Cook has either the cricket intelligence or the man management intelligence to be a strong leader. I think he has benefited from having a team that used to play well and let's be honest did not need a lot of leading. Batsmen put up a lot of runs in the first innings, the bowlers came in and ran through teams and it did not require Cook to do anything but be around. In fact I think he played well when he didn't have to think about captaining but once the team faltered and he had to focus on captaining his own form fell away.

  • Cricket_theBestGame on December 29, 2013, 23:20 GMT

    didn't cook made over 700 runs last time around in aust? oh wait he wasn't captain then strauss was !! eng need a new captain so cook can become the batsman he was not so long ago. the job is clearly affecting him. probably make broad since he is T20 captain. leave ian bell alone. don't ruin his good form with captaincy burden.

  • RohanMarkJay on December 30, 2013, 14:47 GMT

    This is the right way forward. Captain and Coach if they are allowed to stay on by the management should stay on.England team players and Captain and coach. Have the next five months off.So they can go and rethink and reflect on the Australian tour. Meanwhile Australia has a tough assignment in South Africa. If Australia perform poorly there or get beaten by South Africa. Then we will know it is the same weak Aussie side before the Ashes.No doubt coach Flower and Captain and players will be watching with great interest how Australia go in South Africa. Because everyone would now like to know how good this Australian side actually are and wether Ashes 2013/14 was a flash in the pan. Australia peformed very well in their own backyard. However the next Ashes is in 2015. England can well feel confident of winning the Ashes next time. England play much better in England than they do in Australia. Captain and Coach therefore are doing the right thing in staying on and build a new team 2015.

  • Dielo on December 30, 2013, 11:27 GMT

    Warne got into Cook's head with his comments of being unimaginative and too defensive. From then on then he was basically fulfilling Warne's prophecy always looking confused and second guessing himself. Can't believe he's the same guy who captained England to an Ashes triumph just earlier this year.

  • SirBobJones on December 30, 2013, 10:13 GMT

    I think people are over-estimating the difference the captain would make to that team...some sort of Brearley/Fleming/Tubby Taylor hybrid would still be down 4-0. Cook deserves to stay, and at least should have experience under a different coach (if Flower goes) before playing on under Bell or whoever else gets put in that position. I haven't seen much T20 but if Broad is any good tactically, make him test skipper too, would make for amusing viewing watching him give the opposing captain a serve at the coin toss.

  • zxaar on December 30, 2013, 7:30 GMT

    I think the real culprit is KP. Ever since he mentioned that Cook will break Tendulkar's records, Cook's form has taken big drop. Pressure of emulating Tendulkar has got him.

  • Biggus on December 30, 2013, 5:52 GMT

    Good to hear Alastair, so you'll still be Captain when we turn up in the Old Dart to contest the Ashes? Terribly sporting of you Old Chap, we couldn't wish for more. Best Christmas present ever!

  • Manush on December 30, 2013, 3:08 GMT

    Cook as an opener is OK but not as a captain. His very defensive approach and lack of imagination and vibrancy, in the field cost them the series. Further he and the coach did not read the symptoms even in the previous series. Both should go gracefully.With much fanfare they took 4 tall pace bowlers to suit Australian pitches and backed Bresnan who is a misfit for the challenge. Anderson the leader in the past did not live up to his reputation. Only Pietersen and to some extent Cook showed their class but due to the team's poor show could not dominate after some good starts.The team selection was poor. Cook will do well if he leaves the captaincy to somebody and for Flower it is time to go.

  • SvenTent on December 30, 2013, 1:36 GMT

    Providing there is someone in the England setup to help Cook analyse his captaincy flaws, he deserves an opportunity to show he has learned from this ill-fated tour before he is cast aside without a standout successor.

  • elvis57 on December 30, 2013, 0:12 GMT

    Not sure that there are any potential replacements, but Cook's captaincy in this test was absolutely woeful.

  • Viswasam on December 29, 2013, 23:44 GMT

    Not sure exactly what "group management" has to do with captaincy. In it's simplest form, it is getting the troops together and finding a way to win. I am not convinced that Cook has either the cricket intelligence or the man management intelligence to be a strong leader. I think he has benefited from having a team that used to play well and let's be honest did not need a lot of leading. Batsmen put up a lot of runs in the first innings, the bowlers came in and ran through teams and it did not require Cook to do anything but be around. In fact I think he played well when he didn't have to think about captaining but once the team faltered and he had to focus on captaining his own form fell away.

  • Cricket_theBestGame on December 29, 2013, 23:20 GMT

    didn't cook made over 700 runs last time around in aust? oh wait he wasn't captain then strauss was !! eng need a new captain so cook can become the batsman he was not so long ago. the job is clearly affecting him. probably make broad since he is T20 captain. leave ian bell alone. don't ruin his good form with captaincy burden.

  • Chris_P on December 29, 2013, 20:57 GMT

    I really hope the captaincy issue doesn't drive him to early retirement. I think he is a class act & has a stack of ability & has plenty to offer to the cricket world in general & English cricket in particular. He doesn't seem a natural leader or captain but not sure who has in the current set-up. Good luck to him on his future, either way.

  • 4test90 on December 29, 2013, 20:50 GMT

    Any truth in the rumour that England are considering 11 changes for Sydney ?!?

  • 200ondebut on December 29, 2013, 19:25 GMT

    Cook needs to step down - but after the tour. Not sure there is a natural sucessor tho! Time to get KP back in the role.

  • Hira1 on December 29, 2013, 17:57 GMT

    No one is doubting Cooks' commitment its his captaincy skill that is under serious consideration.

  • jimbond on December 29, 2013, 17:10 GMT

    Cook's success as a captain could be attributed to the structure and discipline that Flower brought in, and Cook's captaincy blended with that. With some of the best performers either quitting or becoming jaded, and talks of Flower moving out, it is not a good idea for Cook to remain as captain. Of course he has lot to contribute as a batsman and a key opener in all forms of the game. I wouldn't mind even if Bell is made a captain, at least he is a thinking player, unlike guys like Broad.

  • Sir_Ivor on December 29, 2013, 15:03 GMT

    Cook is a very good batsman who has been consistent from his 100 on debut in India. The fact that he has got to 8000 runs at the age of 29 would go to show that he is a long time player,not a flash in the pan.I am not sure captaincy is coming in his way of becoming a greater batsman than he is at present. Sometimes captains run out of luck like Clarke had for sometime. That may be true for Cook as well. The point is that in England they make scapegoats too soon as they are doing with Flower the coach. I believe Cook is an average captain who has some good fast bowlers and a very good spinner which gave him those wins. Trott in his earlier troublefree avatar was solid till he ran into Johnson. I believe he should carry on as captain. Dhoni should have been relieved of his captaincy after India lost badly in England and Australia. But they stuck with hime and he is slowly making a comeback. It is the same with Cook. He will regain his midas touch of 2012 soon enough.

  • 2.14istherunrate on December 29, 2013, 13:20 GMT

    It's been a tough time for Cook as captain,but no disasters happen without offering a window of opportunity to learn a few things. Strauss is quoted as saying as much-he didn't learn from success nearly as much as he learnt from failures. Where is he at as a batsman is a major question. His runs are needed more than ever and I would have thought this question was as important as any. As one of the best in the world,his batting is a rock for England to build innings on. In this and the last series his stats have been down. Though fluent in this match he has not scored a century since Headingley. We need that level of play again and then our totals will rise. Of course he is not the only one, but he is the opener. Do his tactics work or is there need for a new direction? I am not sure how many directions there are to go in.Beefy reckons the batsmen are just scared and lack any confidence.Of course the stonewalling does not help. To succeed as captain Cook needs a high confidence side.

  • whoster on December 29, 2013, 13:18 GMT

    Alastair Cook's honesty is commendable, but he's simply not up to the job as captain. The way he used Broad and Panesar lessened whatever slim chances England had to win, and his simple drop at slip was horrifying to watch. His whole captaincy style is sterile, and has no imagination or spark. We also need him to become a world class batsman again, so let him concentrate on just that.

    Broad's the only candidate I can see within the team, and he's shown great maturity in dealing with the hostility of the Aussie crowds and press. Not only that, but he's been our best performer by a mile.

    For the Sydney game, England should gather together the whole squad and have a game of 'spuds' to decide who plays.

  • WalkingWicket11 on December 29, 2013, 12:15 GMT

    England seem to have assumed that all they have to do is turn up on the ground, and they would win 5-0. They learnt the hard way that they actually need to put some effort to win.

  • jayg24 on December 29, 2013, 11:38 GMT

    Cook's record as a batsman is extremely good. Youngest player ever to reach 8000 test runs, breaking Tendulkar's record is exemplary. However his captaincy leaves a lot to be desired. How on earth he can take broad off when he was bowling well with Mitchell-like pace is beyond me, at that was just after he dropped the Dolly catch in the slips! Can you believe it? Instead of taking broad off maybe he should've taken himself out of the slips? As well as his captaincy being mediocare, the pressure of it all is affecting his batting. In Australia 2010/11 ashes he scored 766 runs in total at an avg. of 128 when not captain. That says it all I'm afraid.

  • Big_Chikka on December 29, 2013, 11:02 GMT

    interesting that his captaincy is under the microscope, when above all else players performances and "group management" should be foremost and are overlooked. cook says he's taking responsibility but to be honest, if he didn't pick the playing eleven himself, the only thing he can be accountable for is player management on field. seems to me not all the truths about selection are in the open.

  • yorkshire-86 on December 29, 2013, 10:33 GMT

    Cook was forced into the captaincy despite having no leadership qualities and shying away from decisions when he was the official VC. In fact the only plausible reason to give him the armband is because 'Captain Cook' sounds cool. But sounds is all it is - Cook is a natural follower who prefers to let others call the shots. England need to do that, pick a new captain and let Cook concentrate on his batting. As for the new spinner, please don't pick another kid. Get someone in aged 25-27 who is used to the game but still has a lot of years to give.

  • Webba84 on December 29, 2013, 8:46 GMT

    Much respect for Cook the way he talked after the loss but there will be more respect if he can get himself and his team looking like they want to be out there and compete during the next match. He needs to look at everything he can possible do to make a positive change over the next 5 days.

  • TheBigBoodha on December 29, 2013, 7:56 GMT

    I do feel sorry for Cook. It doesn't get much worse than this. But it's adapt or perish. He'll need to make some changes to the way he leads others as well as tactically.

    Not sure how we can explain the fall from grace. Maybe Shane Warne got inside his head - literally, and turned him into the captain Warne said he was a few months ago.

    All the best to him and the team. On the bright side, there's only one way to go from here - up.

  • themagpie on December 29, 2013, 7:51 GMT

    The biggest difference between the sides is the difference in captaincy between Clarke and Cook.

    Clarke has made things happen, with judicious bowling changes to putting fielders in the exact right spot to get batsmen out.

    Cook waits for things to happen, and seems clueless in how to set a field (given the amount of delays it takes him to set a basic field) while making harebrained bowling changes (like giving Root a bowl, while not using Panasar until it was too late).

    Given the amount of talent in the current England team, Cook would have to be one of the worst captains in international cricket currently, with the only one coming close to that being Graeme Smith.

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  • themagpie on December 29, 2013, 7:51 GMT

    The biggest difference between the sides is the difference in captaincy between Clarke and Cook.

    Clarke has made things happen, with judicious bowling changes to putting fielders in the exact right spot to get batsmen out.

    Cook waits for things to happen, and seems clueless in how to set a field (given the amount of delays it takes him to set a basic field) while making harebrained bowling changes (like giving Root a bowl, while not using Panasar until it was too late).

    Given the amount of talent in the current England team, Cook would have to be one of the worst captains in international cricket currently, with the only one coming close to that being Graeme Smith.

  • TheBigBoodha on December 29, 2013, 7:56 GMT

    I do feel sorry for Cook. It doesn't get much worse than this. But it's adapt or perish. He'll need to make some changes to the way he leads others as well as tactically.

    Not sure how we can explain the fall from grace. Maybe Shane Warne got inside his head - literally, and turned him into the captain Warne said he was a few months ago.

    All the best to him and the team. On the bright side, there's only one way to go from here - up.

  • Webba84 on December 29, 2013, 8:46 GMT

    Much respect for Cook the way he talked after the loss but there will be more respect if he can get himself and his team looking like they want to be out there and compete during the next match. He needs to look at everything he can possible do to make a positive change over the next 5 days.

  • yorkshire-86 on December 29, 2013, 10:33 GMT

    Cook was forced into the captaincy despite having no leadership qualities and shying away from decisions when he was the official VC. In fact the only plausible reason to give him the armband is because 'Captain Cook' sounds cool. But sounds is all it is - Cook is a natural follower who prefers to let others call the shots. England need to do that, pick a new captain and let Cook concentrate on his batting. As for the new spinner, please don't pick another kid. Get someone in aged 25-27 who is used to the game but still has a lot of years to give.

  • Big_Chikka on December 29, 2013, 11:02 GMT

    interesting that his captaincy is under the microscope, when above all else players performances and "group management" should be foremost and are overlooked. cook says he's taking responsibility but to be honest, if he didn't pick the playing eleven himself, the only thing he can be accountable for is player management on field. seems to me not all the truths about selection are in the open.

  • jayg24 on December 29, 2013, 11:38 GMT

    Cook's record as a batsman is extremely good. Youngest player ever to reach 8000 test runs, breaking Tendulkar's record is exemplary. However his captaincy leaves a lot to be desired. How on earth he can take broad off when he was bowling well with Mitchell-like pace is beyond me, at that was just after he dropped the Dolly catch in the slips! Can you believe it? Instead of taking broad off maybe he should've taken himself out of the slips? As well as his captaincy being mediocare, the pressure of it all is affecting his batting. In Australia 2010/11 ashes he scored 766 runs in total at an avg. of 128 when not captain. That says it all I'm afraid.

  • WalkingWicket11 on December 29, 2013, 12:15 GMT

    England seem to have assumed that all they have to do is turn up on the ground, and they would win 5-0. They learnt the hard way that they actually need to put some effort to win.

  • whoster on December 29, 2013, 13:18 GMT

    Alastair Cook's honesty is commendable, but he's simply not up to the job as captain. The way he used Broad and Panesar lessened whatever slim chances England had to win, and his simple drop at slip was horrifying to watch. His whole captaincy style is sterile, and has no imagination or spark. We also need him to become a world class batsman again, so let him concentrate on just that.

    Broad's the only candidate I can see within the team, and he's shown great maturity in dealing with the hostility of the Aussie crowds and press. Not only that, but he's been our best performer by a mile.

    For the Sydney game, England should gather together the whole squad and have a game of 'spuds' to decide who plays.

  • 2.14istherunrate on December 29, 2013, 13:20 GMT

    It's been a tough time for Cook as captain,but no disasters happen without offering a window of opportunity to learn a few things. Strauss is quoted as saying as much-he didn't learn from success nearly as much as he learnt from failures. Where is he at as a batsman is a major question. His runs are needed more than ever and I would have thought this question was as important as any. As one of the best in the world,his batting is a rock for England to build innings on. In this and the last series his stats have been down. Though fluent in this match he has not scored a century since Headingley. We need that level of play again and then our totals will rise. Of course he is not the only one, but he is the opener. Do his tactics work or is there need for a new direction? I am not sure how many directions there are to go in.Beefy reckons the batsmen are just scared and lack any confidence.Of course the stonewalling does not help. To succeed as captain Cook needs a high confidence side.

  • Sir_Ivor on December 29, 2013, 15:03 GMT

    Cook is a very good batsman who has been consistent from his 100 on debut in India. The fact that he has got to 8000 runs at the age of 29 would go to show that he is a long time player,not a flash in the pan.I am not sure captaincy is coming in his way of becoming a greater batsman than he is at present. Sometimes captains run out of luck like Clarke had for sometime. That may be true for Cook as well. The point is that in England they make scapegoats too soon as they are doing with Flower the coach. I believe Cook is an average captain who has some good fast bowlers and a very good spinner which gave him those wins. Trott in his earlier troublefree avatar was solid till he ran into Johnson. I believe he should carry on as captain. Dhoni should have been relieved of his captaincy after India lost badly in England and Australia. But they stuck with hime and he is slowly making a comeback. It is the same with Cook. He will regain his midas touch of 2012 soon enough.