Critics might be calling for his head, but under-fire England captain Alastair Cook said he is not willing to step down from the leadership position at the moment despite his side crashing to a 95-run loss in the second cricket Test against India at Lord’s on Monday.
India clinched their first Test win at the historic Lord’s in nearly three decades after riding on Ishant Sharma’s inspired spell of fast bowling to take a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
India registered their first Test win at Lord’s in 28 years – only second win in 17 Tests here – after Kapil Dev’s team achieved the feat back in June 1986 winning by five wickets.
Horribly out-of-form Cook himself scored only 22 runs in the second innings as England’s top century maker in Test cricket has now gone 26 innings without scoring one.
“I haven’t had any tougher times in my career than at the moment. It gets harder and harder the longer it goes on. But I don’t think walking away from it would be the way to go,” Cook said defending his decision to stay on as England captain.
“Until somebody taps you on the shoulder and says ‘we don’t want you to be captain’, or ‘we think there is a better man’, or my position does become untenable I want to carry on.”
When asked pertinently if he had set any timeline to regain form or have a rethink about his captaincy, Cook replied, “I’m just as determined as I was at the beginning of this game. I still want to throw everything into being captain of England. I’ve still got that determination to do that.
“A tough loss, in good conditions for us, does keep making it harder – and not scoring runs is getting tougher and tougher. It is hard, a tough job when you’re losing games of cricket and you’re not scoring runs. If I’m not scoring runs by the end of the series, and we’re losing more games, then I’m clearly maybe not the man,” he added.
Ishant bowled a devastating spell in the post-lunch session after he had broken the 101-run stand between Moeen Ali and Joe Root in the last ball of the morning session.
Ishant returned to take four wickets for nine runs off 21 balls in the post-lunch session as England collapsed from 173 for five to 223 all out in under 13 overs.
“You live and die by the sword you choose to take,” said Cook about his batsmen’s approach to the short-stuff hurled by Ishant.
“I am sure for the first few overs when we were taking them on, and suddenly that total required goes from 150 to 120, a bit of momentum changed. But it is a very high-risk strategy, and it didn’t come off.
“We keep giving ourselves opportunities in games, and we’re not taking them. We need to knock down that door. I don’t know quite why we’re not taking those chances at the moment. Until we find that answer, we won’t win games,” he said.
England’s loss places even more onus on the remaining three Tests in Southampton, Manchester and the Oval, all of them back-to-back affairs.
England wanted a result-oriented pitch after the stalemate in Nottingham and they got one but they couldn’t force a result in their favour.
With James Anderson’s level 3 offence levelled by India for abusing Ravindra Jadeja to be heard this week, it makes very difficult to England to even begin planning a comeback in the series.
“The beauty of a five-match series is that you have the chance to bounce back. We lost the first match in Ahmedabad in India and no one gave us a sniff we’d win that series, and we won it 2-1. I have been speaking to coach Peter Moores over the last couple of days and still think we can turn this round,” Cook said.
“Everyone has doubts when things aren’t going well for you or when you are out of luck. But it makes me more determined and I’d just love to win this series,” he said.
England’s team for the next Test starting in Southampton on Sunday will be selected tomorrow, and there lies uncertainity over the places of a few players like butter-fingered wicket-keeper Matt Prior among others.
But Cook defended the glovesman.
“Matty is a fantastic wicket-keeper. He’s probably shelled a few too many chances for the standards he sets himself. But if he wants to continue playing for England, and is hungry, only he will know that,” Cook said.
“It’s down to the eleven players, who at the moment aren’t producing the standard of cricket we need to win games. The young guys have turned up and played to their potential. The selectors have always got to think ‘are we putting the best side out on the park?'” said the English skipper.
“Myself, Ian Bell, Stuart Broad and Matt haven’t played as well as we can. The past records are fantastic, to be very proud of. But Test cricket is a very tough environment to survive in. The game owes you nothing, just because you’ve done it in the past; you have to keep performing for England – that’s what Test cricket is about,” Cook signed off.