Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Despite being on the verge of losing the second Test against Sri Lanka at Headingley, England, batsman Ian Bell has announced that “there is absolutely no doubt” that Alastair Cook will stay on as captain.
Bell’s comments come after numerous pundits and former players called for Cook to step down following a number of shoddy batting performances and captaincy decisions.
England are currently 57/5 heading into the final day of the Test, in which they need 350 runs to win.
“It looks like we’re going to lose this Test,” Bell said. “And that is absolutely gutting. But there is absolutely no doubt [that Cook will continue as captain]. I don’t think the tactics were wrong. I don’t think he could have done anything more.
“Our plans were to get the ball full and we didn’t quite do that. I don’t think the bowlers will sit there and say they got it right. It felt the kind of wicket that, with anything short, you wanted to make the most of it.
“And we, as batsman, had an opportunity with the bat to bury them in the first innings. We didn’t take it and I think they showed what good teams do: when people are down, you have to keep them down.
“We had chances in the field and we put them down. You can’t do that with good teams. You can’t give those world-class players opportunities or they will hurt you. They’ve been outstanding today, but we’ve been really disappointing. We’ve been outplayed. They recognised today was a massive day and they’ve won it.
“As a group, we’ve got to help him [Cook]. We’ve got to get right behind him and start performing as a team. He’s got more hundreds than anyone in an England shirt and he’s been one of the best batsmen I’ve ever played with. Form is temporary. One innings and he’ll be flying again. So I’m not worried about his batting at all.”
Bell also lauded Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews for his career-best knock of 160.
“Hats off to him,” Bell said. “It was an incredible knock. He’s played arguably one of the best knocks we’ve seen against us, certainly shepherding the tail. I can’t remember one, since I’ve been playing, that was better than that towards the back end, the way he has played with the bowlers.
“But you look back with hindsight and I think if you want to stop someone like that scoring runs you get them out, don’t you? You don’t just try to stop them scoring. But I hope tomorrow that we’ve got five guys who can show what it means to wear an England shirt and come out with some pride and at least do something.
“We’ve been working really well and there’s this one really bad day we’ve had in the last eight or nine. In a two-match series, you can have one bad day and lose it. If this was a five-match series, we could fight our way back in, but we can’t.”