Friday, Oct 31, 2014

Alastair Cook retains captaincy, Matt Prior takes a break

Matt Prior (L) has been under the scanner for his poor form (Source: Reuters) Matt Prior (L) has been under the scanner for his poor form (Source: Reuters)
AP | Southampton | Posted: July 23, 2014 12:51 am | Updated: July 23, 2014 10:31 am

Alastair Cook was reconfirmed as captain for the third Test against India despite England losing seven of its last nine Tests. Even though England selector James Whitaker said on Tuesday it was “vital” the team arrived “refreshed and ready” for the Test starting on Sunday at the Rose Bowl, only one enforced change was made to the 13-man squad, with the uncapped Jos Buttler in for injured wicketkeeper Matt Prior.

Cook refused to step down as skipper after the embarrassing 95-run loss at Lord’s on Monday, on a second-Test pitch made to order for England. “I want to carry on,” he said, though he conceded he was running out of time before the decision was taken out of his hands.

Cook was averaging 23.6 in 27 innings since his last century 14 months ago, and his captaincy has been undermined by the lack of support on the pitch from his fellow veterans, particularly Prior and fast bowler Stuart Broad.

“I haven’t had any tougher times in my career than at the moment,” Cook said. “But I don’t think walking away from it would be the way to go. I’ll stay until my position becomes untenable.”

While it was difficult to see Cook canned as captain in the middle of a series India was leading 1-0, his predecessors weren’t uncertain. Former captains Michael Atherton, Michael Vaughan, Nasser Hussain, Ian Botham and Geoffrey Boycott all say it was time Cook gave up the captaincy and concentrated just on batting.

Botham wrote in the Daily Mirror, “He’s got to say, ‘This is not working, it’s running through the team now and I’m stepping down.’ It is all well and good the captain standing there and saying, ‘I’m trying very hard and giving it everything,’ but when the brain is scrambled, it’s scrambled. It might just free him up, and it didn’t do me any hard, did it?”

Prior announced on Monday he was taking an indefinite break from the game to resolve fitness issues, though it was regarded as the end of his 79-Test career. Sloppy behind the wickets this summer, he said he has been struggling with Achilles, thigh and hand injuries.

England: Alastair Cook (captain), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Gary Ballance, Ian Bell, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler, Chris Jordan, Liam Plunkett, Sam Robson, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes.

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