Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
England captain Alastair Cook has announced that he is keen on continuing as leader after Sri Lanka defeated his side by 100 runs in the second Test at Headingley.
England have been winless in their last eight Tests, six of which have come from losses. This is the worst run of form the country has experienced in the longer format of the game since 1996-97.
In addition to Sri Lanka winning their first Test series in England, Cook’s side dropped two spots to fifth on the International Cricket Council (ICC) Test team rankings.
“I’ve never quit on anything I’ve done,” Cook said. “I’ve given it my all, all the time. Every 104 games I’ve played for England, I’ve left everything out there
“It’s the same situation here. Until that moment somebody tells me they don’t want me to be captain, I’ll still be here. I’m incredibly proud to be England captain. I’ve been selected to do it.
“If someone decides I’m not the right person for the job and the results don’t justify me doing it, then fine. But until that moment, I’m desperate to try to turn English cricket around.”
But, Cook also looked at the positives from the match, which included pace bowler Liam Plunkett’s maiden five-wicket haul and Sam Robson and Moeen Ali both making their maiden Test centuries.
“I don’t think you can fault any of the guys with the way they’ve played on the final day,” he said. “We lost this Test match with a really bad day yesterday. We had one of our worst days, with both bat and ball, and lost this game because of it.
“Obviously, as a captain, you are responsible. We didn’t bowl very well. It wasn’t for lack of trying. We knew we had to bowl that fuller length. We knew what we were trying to do, but we just didn’t get it right.
“If you look at the whole series, I think we probably had the better of eight, maybe seven, of the 10 days.
“With the fifth ball of the last day of the first Test, it was taken away from us and with the fifth ball of the last over, we’ve lost this Test match.
“It doesn’t change the fact we’ve lost the series. But I think it would be wrong to look at it as such a negative series, just because we lost it.
“We’ve seen some amazing things from some young players who’ve come in, and announced themselves in international cricket. It was an incredible effort on the final day, with Moeen’s hundred. To play like he played, for a free-flowing batsman to be so controlled, measured and calm under that pressure can only bode well for the future.
“But we can’t look past the fact that, in this game, we were 300 for 3, with a lead of 60, and we haven’t been able to nail Sri Lanka down. We should have got more than 360. We needed 450, 500 on that wicket. That’s what’s cost us.”
However, while he is not prepared to give up on trying to “turn English cricket around”, Cook conceded that his form with the bat is a major concern.
“No one’s guaranteed a place in this England team,” he said. “You’ve seen with the young players around now, they’re pushing for places. That’s the way it should always be.
“When you’re not batting well, you start to look at a few things technically. I’m sure there’s something not quite right there I can work on.
“With runs at the moment hard to come by, it does put more pressure on me. I think I’ve got to go back to what I’ve done in the past. Bowlers do get tired. I’ve got to be so strong mentally and let them come to my areas, I believe. But it comes down to being mentally strong at the crease. I’ve done it in the past. I’ve just got to drag that mental strength out again.
“It’s an incredibly tough challenge, a tough job, there’s no doubt about it, especially opening the batting.”
Cook also admitted that the hangover from the nightmare tour of Australia may still be affecting some of the players, but added that pace bowler James Anderson did extremely well to hang on until he was dismissed off the penultimate ball of the match.
“Probably what happened over the winter is still there, getting hammered in Australia,” Cook said. “There is that lasting effect, even with a different side. It’s still the England side.
“But you saw Jimmy, right at the end. I think that just shows to everybody who doesn’t really know us as blokes what it means to us to play for England.
“You sometimes get accused of not caring that much, especially when things don’t go that well. But that was the raw emotion to a guy who has put everything into 83 minutes of batting. If it was 84, we’d be sitting here with a smile on our faces.”