Cook: I’m not quitting

Frank Dalleres
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England skipper rejects clamour to resign despite India Test defeat deepening crisis

BESIEGED England cricket captain Alastair Cook refused to quit last night despite defeat in the second Test against India at Lord’s increasing calls for him to relinquish the role.

Chasing 319 to win, England capitulated from 173-4 to 223 all out as Cook suffered a seventh defeat in nine Tests, failed to win for a 10th in a row and fell 1-0 behind in the series.

Former skipper Michael Vaughan urged England chiefs to replace Cook with Middlesex batsman Eoin Morgan, while fellow predecessor Alec Stewart said it was time to end the off-form opener’s “suffering”.

Cook, however, insists he will not give up with three matches to play, a stance supported by head coach Peter Moores and former team-mates Graeme Swann and Andrew Strauss.

“To quit now, in the middle of the series, would be wrong,” he said. “I’m not trying to prove anyone wrong. If it’s not to be, so be it. But I believe the team needs me to lead them through this tough time.

“I’ve been speaking to Peter Moores and, even in tough times, me and him still think we can turn this around. A captain is only as good as the players you play with. I don’t think my captaincy was the reason we lost this game.”

Moores, without a win in four Tests since taking charge, said Cook had the “stomach for the fight”. He added: “The tougher it gets, the more he wants to get stuck in and build this team.”

Wicketekeeper Matt Prior did stand down last night for the rest of the summer, though, citing injury.

Vaughan advocated replacing Cook with Morgan, who has not played a Test match since 2012, in an attempt to make England more attacking.

“It can’t be any worse,” he said. “A decision needs to be made about Alastair Cook. Tactically he’s been all at sea for a while.”

Former batsman Vaughan said Cook needed “four or five months away from cricket” in order to rediscover form. “That’s what England miss most: Cook averaging 45 at the top of the order,” he added.

Stewart said England would “not miss his captaincy”, and said his current malaise was like “death by a thousand cuts”. He added: “I reckon he’s received about 950 and can’t take too many more.”

Swann, who played under Cook before retiring earlier this year, hailed his “inner steel”, saying he had “spoken brilliantly” and would “fight like hellfire”.

Strauss said England chiefs would not sack his successor Cook mid-series, and that “it would be the wrong thing to do”.

The wicket of Moeen Ali (39) just before lunch broke England, after he and Joe Root (66) had given the hosts hope, and Root, Prior and Ben Stokes all tumbled in 14 dire minutes as bowler Ishant Sharma took 7-74.

The third Test at Southampton’s Ageas Bowl starts on Sunday.