Cook: 'No one can fault us on how hard we fought'

Although the series has not been a successful one for his team, England captain Cook said was proud of "the way the lads have fought" and was determined to finish the Test leg of the ongoing tour on a winning note.

Alastair Cook

England skipper Alastair Cook fields during a practice session at Chepauk on Thursday.   -  AP

England’s captain Alastair Cook has credited his team for providing a tough fight to the Indians despite a 3-0 scoreline. Although the series has not been a successful one for his team, Cook was proud of “the way the lads have fought” and was determined to finish the Test leg of the ongoing tour on a winning note.

He also announced James Anderson’s omission from the Test because of a “general soreness” which will further deplete England’s bowling line-up.

“There is one thing I can’t be criticised for. It is the togetherness, the desire, the way the lads have fought. We put everything into the store. We have no regrets with the effort; we’d rather not be 3-0 down and there are certain decisions in hindsight we’d certainly change and they happen, but I don’t think anyone can fault us on how hard we have fought,” Cook said on the eve of the fifth Test at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium.

The fight notwithstanding, Cook was aware of the scrutiny he will be subjected to for his strategic decisions that have not produced desired results. He pinned it down to the general trend of being on the losing side in the series.

“You get judged on your results, don’t you? As a captain you always do. When you lose games of cricket, you come in for criticism. You’re under fire. It happens to everyone. When Virat loses games of cricket, he’ll get criticised. When I lose games of cricket, I’ll be criticised. That is part and parcel of it. Look at Dylan Hartley, the England rugby captain. He wins games of rugby, they’re all flying. An incident last week, and he gets criticised. You’re somewhere in the middle most of the time,” Cook said.

To prepare to change the losing trend, however, England has had to make do without practice wickets for nets sessions. Due to the cyclone that ripped through Chennai, the practice facilities were not useable, forcing both teams to warm up with games of football. While India’s players seemed to be playing a casual game of football ahead of their more serious fielding drills, their English counterparts were playing a more elaborate form of football spread over a bigger area on the field.

Cook was understanding of the situation, and empathised. “In the 140-odd games that I’ve played, I don’t think I have ever played in a game where we haven’t had nets before. But we have a lot of cricket, sometimes you do not remember what happened. In the cyclone, people unfortunately lost their lives. Net sessions a day before don’t seem quite as important. Only driving from the hotel to here and from the airport to the hotel, you’re looking around, looking at the devastation. It’s a real reminder of how lucky we are,” he said.

Cook refrained from making early judgments on the pitch, which he said looked like a good wicket. “It looks a good wicket but no one really knows how the pitch is going to play. I’ve never seen a wicket dried with coal before. Ground staff (has) done a fantastic job in getting the wicket looking like that, and the ground looking like that from what it was two days ago. I don’t think anyone knows but it looks a pretty hard, dry wicket,” he said.

Regardless of the outcome of the upcoming contest, it seems Joe Root is looked upon as a captain-in-waiting, whenever Cook steps down, in the near or distant future. Cook certainly encouraged the idea, marking him as a player who knows how to deal with challenges. He did not predict whether Root will relish or be burdened by the responsibility, but felt sure he was strong enough to deal with ‘anything’ thrown at him.

“The moment Joe got on that plane to India in 2012 (his debut tour) he knew he was ready for international cricket. He knows his mind, his game. Every challenge that’s been thrown at him, he’s handled so, I don’t think anything in the next 10 years will plague him too much,” Cook said.

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