Beleaguered England captain Alastair Cook on Thursday conceded that they may have gone wrong with some of the tactics they employed in what has been a disastrous Test series against India but insisted that there was no lack of effort.
Even as Cook struggled with both his batting and captaincy, a dominant India took an unassailable 3-0 lead heading into the fifth and final Test here, with Virat Kohli leading the home team by example, notching up 640 runs scoring one double hundred and two centuries.
“One thing I can’t be criticised for is the togetherness and I have no regrets on the effort we have made. We would rather not be 3-0 down. Decisions, in hindsight, we would have certainly changed. We got some decisions wrong, but what happens, happens. I don’t think anyone can fault us for how hard we fought,” Cook told reporters at the pre match press conference.
Questions have been raised about Cook’s captaincy in the series, with some saying it is time the baton is passed to Joe Root, but he sought to underplay the debate.
“You get judged on your results, don’t you? When you lose games you come under criticism. It happens to everyone, when Virat loses games, he will get criticised. When I lose games, I get criticised. That is part and parcel of it. Even Hartley, the England rugby captain, you win some games in cricket, lose games in rugby, his arm goes flying last week. You get criticised.
“When you are part of the leadership and stuff, you live and die by those decisions. When everything is going well, it looks good, everything is going badly, it looks terrible. You are probably somewhere in the middle most of the time.”
Asked about the pitch, he said, “It looks a good wicket. I don’t think anyone knows really how it is going to play. I have never seen a wicket dried with coals before. The groundstaff has done a fantastic job looking at it from where it was a couple of days ago. Anyone goes by looks, it is a pretty hard, dry wicket.”
Cook was full of praise for Kohli’s batting in the series.
“His is a masterclass of batting. Looks like he stepped up. Full credit to him over the last couple of years. Likewise, Joe’s record is fantastic and he is a fantastic batsman. He is English, he is part of this side and it is.”
When asked about Kohli’s captaincy and Root, Cook said, “You just never know. A lot of players are spurred when they first take over and then it levels off after a couple of years. You find your genuine level. As I said Joe’s handled, the moment he came into the playing XI a couple of years ago (in 2012) as a young looking Joe Root — he hasn’t changed too much — he knew he was ready for international cricket, his mind, his game.”
He did not read too much into India exacting revenge after defeats in 2011, 2012 and 2014.
“In cricket, everything happens so quickly. 2014 looks a long time ago, 2012 seems long time ago, 2011 seems even further away. Like everything you debrief, you talk about stuff, that is just what happens in teams. Good things happen, bad things happen. We are very proud to represent England and we have got an opportunity in the next five days to do that,” Cook said.
“We have competed with India in this series, but we just haven’t been good enough when it got tight to contain them. And India has been better than us in winning those game. Credit to them.”
James Anderson may have been ruled out of the Test because of an injury but Cook said the veteran pacer can contribute to English cricket for the next couple of years.
Anderson was ruled out of the fifth and final Test due to “body soreness”. Asked if Anderson can get through till Ashes, Cook replied in positive.
“Yes, I’m very confident he can. It’s not about getting through, he can make a big contribution to English cricket over the next couple of years. I think we have to manage him slightly bit more than we have in Test matches. Not when he plays, he might miss a couple of Test matches which is precautionary just after what’s happened over the last six months.
“His body after six months, a couple of months off from now, after some serious hard training and can really recover from stuff, his body might fly. He’s a very athletic guy. He’s going to rely on his body as a bowler. Not Freddie Flintoff, who pounds on his body. So obviously a lot lighter, he does have a lot less wear and tear.
“Over the last couple of months he’s picked a lot of niggles and his shoulder is off. I think it’s not about him getting through, I think he can still make a lot of contribution to English cricket over the next couple of years.”