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Alastair Cook: England's Ashes decision-making 'hasn't been good enough'

"Where's the planning? We talk about planning but I can't see where that planning has got to"

James Anderson and Stuart Broad walk off after Australia complete their win, Australia vs England, 2nd Test, The Ashes, Adelaide, 5th day, December 20, 2021

England fell to another heavy defeat in Adelaide  •  PA Images via Getty Images

Alastair Cook has questioned England's planning and criticised the "simple, avoidable mistakes" they have made in the first two Ashes Tests after their 275-run defeat in Adelaide saw Australia take a 2-0 lead.
Cook, England's captain during their 5-0 defeat in Australia eight years ago and their leading run-scorer on their victorious 2010-11 tour, said that England's decision-making "hasn't been good enough", and said that there was little evidence of the planning that Chris Silverwood - England's head coach and Cook's former Essex coach - had regularly referred to throughout his two years in charge.
"Ultimately, England are ruing the fact they've made too many mistakes in these two games," Cook said in BT Sport's coverage. "Their fielding isn't as good as Australia's, the decision-making off the field to get to this point hasn't been good enough, and you can't afford - on a tour like this - to make mistakes. It's such a tough tour anyway.
"Hindsight is the easiest place to come from but we've gone into this tour with all the stuff from Chris Silverwood, saying 'we're going to be the best-prepared England team', 'we've prepared for this', 'we want to arrive with this, this and this.' Yes, there have been some circumstances they can't have avoided like the Covid situation, the weather they've had, the T20 World Cup rescheduled.
"But they turned up to play the biggest Ashes game which is the first one, where you set the tone, where you start to get in the series, and played a bowling attack that had never played before together. Where's the planning? We talk about planning but I can't see where that planning has got to."
Cook was also critical of the decision to omit Stuart Broad from the first Test at the Gabba, suggesting picking him should have been "a no-brainer".
"I don't think James [Anderson] was fit to play that game, so that's fine," he said. "So then you go for a guy who's got a good record at the Gabba, Stuart Broad, who you know can handle big situations, has delivered for England in the past… and you don't play him. I'm sitting there going 'really? Like, really? How's that decision been made'. To me, that's a no-brainer."
Matt Prior, England's wicketkeeper on the 2010-11 tour and Cook's vice-captain during the 2013-14 whitewash, highlighted England's "unforced errors" as well as their decision-making, describing their profligacy in the field as "a huge negative".
"Before you even look at batting vs batting and bowling vs bowling on the two sides, it's England's unforced errors," he said on BT Sport. "Dropping seven catches in two Test matches, that's a huge negative and it's one that can be trained and practised and shouldn't happen at this level, quite frankly.
"Taking wickets with no-balls and the amount of no-balls being bowled by this England team - it's those elements that will be as frustrating as not leaving as well as the Australians, or bowling a bit fuller, or everything else.
"People talk about one-percenters, but taking catches? That's a 20-percenter. England aren't at a place where they've focusing on one percent here, one percent there - get your 20 percent right first and then you can go from there.
"But I agree with Alastair that some of the decisions that have been made so far in these two Test matches… I mean, talk about putting yourself behind the eight-ball before you've even got on the pitch. It's been a real tough one."