England in Australia 2013-14 January 11, 2014

Cook silent on Pietersen future

ESPNcricinfo staff

Alastair Cook, England's Test and one-day captain, refused to comment on Kevin Pietersen's international future during a cagey press conference ahead of the first ODI in Melbourne. Asked about the reported breakdown of relations between Pietersen and the England team director, Andy Flower, Cook attempted to dead-bat the issue.

"It's very hard for me to talk to you the media about this. It's very hard," he said. "I can't do that. Confidentiality and stuff like that - what happens in the dressing room stays in the dressing room. I refuse to do that."

Cook, speaking for the first time since the latest stories emerged, appeared uncomfortable with the line of questioning, as the difficulties of a 5-0 Ashes whitewash threatened to bleed into subsequent engagements. Asked whether his silence could be construed as a failure to endorse Pietersen, he replied: "You can regard it as you want."

Speaking to the BBC, Cook said there could be no guarantees about Pietersen's future involvement. "If I gave one player reassurance there could be 10 players who want that... it's unfair for us to do that," he said.

Cook has had less than a week to digest England's disastrous Test campaign and, even as attentions begin to shift towards one-day cricket and a year of planning and preparation for the World Cup, he has understandably continued to sift through the Ashes. He met with Paul Downton, the new managing director of England cricket, in Melbourne this week and has been told that he will remain in charge to lead the rebuilding of the Test side.

"Obviously when you lose a series 5-0 a lot of things get thrown up and thrown in your face as a captain," he said. "You start looking at everything and it is important that we do that. What is also important is that it has only been a week since everything happened.

"I would be wrong if I wasn't lying in my bed over the last week or so thinking about stuff I would like to do and how I would like to lead this side forward and the decisions which go with that.

"It's nice knowing you have the opportunity to make amends and I'm desperate to do it. The challenge is whether I'm good enough and we'll see over the next few years, or however long."

The five-match ODI series against Australia will provide an important opportunity for reconnaissance ahead of the 2015 World Cup, to be held in Australia and New Zealand, as well as allowing several players to audition for the Test side. If England do decide to discard Pietersen - whose return to the side after a turbulent 2012 was one of Cook's first acts as Test captain - then the likes of Ravi Bopara and Eoin Morgan have plenty to gain over the coming weeks.

"What is important for me is the one-day series at this precise moment in time," he said. "My total focus has to be on us winning games of cricket in this series. We have a World Cup in 2015 in exactly the same conditions as we are going to experience here and that has to be given my full thought. After this series then you go back on to how do we rebuild the Test side."

Cook is one 10 players who remain from the original Ashes squad and he acknowledged it will be a challenge for them to move on from the difficulties of the last two months but he hopes the new players can sense their opportunity.

"We have spoken about it, the guys who played the Tests, about how we want to go about things," Cook said. "When you haven't been scoring runs your confidence will take a hit but it's amazing how quickly it can turn around. One-day cricket can free people up and allow you to express yourself away from the pressures of Test cricket. It will be tough for those lads, but they know if they come through it will bode well.

"The young players know they have a World Cup in a year's time and after seeing what happened to the Test team they'll be thinking there are a lot of places up for grabs."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Steve on January 14, 2014, 2:17 GMT

    IPL??? what in heaven's name has IPL got to do with anything?

    9 out of the 12 Australians in the Ashes were born in beach side cities whereas only 4 of the englishmen were so therefore England should pick more people born on the ocean.

  • ian on January 13, 2014, 16:49 GMT

    The 'laughing it off' photo of Alistair Cook looks more grin-and-bear-it to me. There is no humour in those eyes. This is the photo of a man who's deeply worried - and with several good reasons. As I have said before, he does not take captaincy in his stride and there is no evidence to suggest that he has an intuitive feel for the role. Sorry, captaincy doesn't come out of a coaching manual - you've either got it, or you haven't. All that's been achieved by Cook's captaincy is a complete loss of his batting form. There has been no compensating inspiration, IMO.

  • Dummy4 on January 13, 2014, 6:55 GMT

    Andy Flower has shown to the world how he has failed to succeed when in a high position by capitulating in Australia. Now his weaknesses are coming out of the cupboard, like handling of Peterson. True the coach is above the players but not just because of his hierarchy. He must be above the players through example and by being the shining light. But sadly his abilities when in a difficult position has come out thick and fast. If he is to drop Peterson, then he has to drop all batsmen including the captain because they all failed. Then why did all of them fail, and and midstream why did Trott leave and even Swan. This has never happened in cricket possibly in the last thirty to forty years. So them problem is not with players but with coach. And no coach worth anything if he cannot motivate his team. match after match the batters as well as bowlers failed miserably. Aussies won not because they were great but that English were looking miserable. Who should be blamed. ECB or the Coach

  • disco on January 12, 2014, 23:30 GMT

    KP is not the problem, England need him to drag themselves out of a huge hole of their own making. Even though KP humiliated them with his text messages to SA during the series and had his place questioned, England knew that they needed a player of his calibre in India, and they need that same pragmatic approach now. England are a shambles and have been an accident waiting to happen for some time. Making KP the vice captain is a brilliant idea and if England don't wake up now it will be too late to ask KP to rescue them again. Like MJ, Bell is a confidence player and he'll probably become worse before things get better.

  • disco on January 12, 2014, 23:25 GMT

    Cook has that Saddam Hussein 'they are drowning in rivers of blood and everything is going to plan' smile, that doesn't quite convince that everything is going to plan.

  • David on January 12, 2014, 23:16 GMT

    Cook should and could've been a lot more supportive than he was. Would he have really said the same if he had been asked about Stuart Broad or Stokes? Bell may not be a natural leader, but he's hardly a less appropriate option than the current incumbent. Cook's interviews are utterly insipid.

  • Balaji on January 12, 2014, 17:50 GMT

    I agree its selector decision to select a particular player for the series, but in KP case he is the only person who had been able to play confidently in the white wash ashes series. If England CB is really concerned about the Team performance, I think they would definitely rate everyone who is on the squad. As Captain of the Team, Cook should be assessed first; he was the biggest failure player in this series. If ECB, assess each player then it would become disaster for the team. Simple suggestion, develop positive mindset in the dressing room and play as usual. That's enough for England team. One simple victory at Australian soil is enough for Team to come up. All the best EC Team.

  • Android on January 12, 2014, 12:33 GMT

    firsts things first, peitersen needs to stay. If I was to fix up the mess of English cricket what I would do is 1. get new selectors in (I thought the squad they picked for Australia had a lot of pointless players in it and wasn't their best squad); 2. get a new captain...I don't think cook shows enough faith with his younger players...I would have Stuart broad as captain; and 3. get a new coach...they need a coach which supports their players and makes the game of cricket fun just like lehmann has done with the current Aussie side.

  • Natarajan on January 12, 2014, 10:31 GMT

    Okie - one team is out of World cup now!! Without KP England cannot win world cup. It would take some time for him to build his form and England is helping others by dropping him. KP might react by retiring from ODIs..

    For the other gentlemen here who point to IPL as the reason for England's Ashes losses - yes, brilliant and you are all right - its because of IPL England lost the ashes as no one other than KP really plays IPL, whereas Clarke, Warner, Watto, Bailey, Finch, Faulkner, Maxwell, Smith and of course Jhonson and Lehman all played IPL. Wake up English cricket...

  • Ali on January 12, 2014, 7:35 GMT

    Ok.. Mr. Flower, has a lot of respect form me but NOW...

    it is very poor form to blame your best performing batsman on a horrible tour, and not blame yourself or the other 11 players ....

    This is showing that the reason why England players were allowed to bully and make fun of KP in the camp was because the management allowed it !

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