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Cook desperate to regain lost ground

Various theories have been thrown around as to why England folded in such dramatic style, but Alastair Cook has rubbished one of them is the IPL

Alastair Cook faces the media in Kingston: 'Obviously at that time we didn't perform well enough and you can't hide away from that' © Getty Images
Smiles were still a scarce commodity around the England team as they continued to try to absorb what happened in their second innings at Sabina Park. After having a spare day to brood over their failings they can at least now leave Jamaica behind, but the players still can't get their heads around what took place on the fourth afternoon.
"Momentum is an amazing thing and I can't explain why it happened but if it happens again things have to change. That's the way it is," said Alastair Cook. "I don't know the reason, but it's happened before to other sides as well and hopefully it won't happen again."
Various theories have been thrown around as to why England folded in such dramatic style, ranging from the captaincy-coach split in January, the IPL and a failure to handle pressure. "The IPL thing is a load of rubbish, when you are out in the middle you aren't focused on anything else," Cook insisted. "Obviously at that time we didn't perform well enough and you can't hide away from that.
"In the last 18 months we have been in good positions and haven't been able to finish it off. If you go back a few years to 2004 when they were winning and then you haven't won a lot, it's like not scoring hundreds, you lose the habit. We have to get back to where we were."
A lack of hundreds has been a feature of England's batting line-up for a considerable period of time. Cook is as guilty of that as any of them, having passed 50 eight times in 2008 but not pushed past 76. His start to 2009 has been even worse, two poor shots - a pull to mid-on and a limp edge to slip - to collect scores of 4 and 0 in the first Test.
"If I'd turned three of those fifties into hundreds I wouldn't be sat here, it's a monkey I want to get off my back," Cook said. "There's no one little thing, form for every player fluctuates and it's how you come out the other end and it's down to me to change that.
"There's no better feeling than scoring hundreds, and you'd do it every day if you could. You get to fifty and start thinking about it, and batting is such a mental game and it doesn't help."
Cook has risen up the ranks of seniority in this team and is the vice-captain for the Test series, albeit in an unofficial capacity. Andrew Strauss has urged personal responsibility, but the lack of a head coach is suggesting a lack of a direction among the team.
"The 11 on the field take responsibility and when things go wrong you hold your hands up," Cook said. "You can't hide behind that. But we are not really reinventing the wheel, it's the way it's always been. When there's a focal point like a head coach and things don't go well it goes onto other people. Here that responsibility goes to the players and they have to face up to that. At the moment we are under a lot of pressure."
The only batsman who seems able to respond to that pressure is Kevin Pietersen and Cook admitted the others need to take the strain. "It's down to the batsmen to take responsibility, and over the last year I haven't scored a hundred so am partly to blame."
Pressure and responsibility are two words the England team are going to have to face up to over the next leg of their tour in Antigua. The island has a beach for every day of the year, but this trip is anything but a holiday in the sun.

Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer at Cricinfo