My wife gave me strength to carry on: Alastair Cook
Support convinced him to weather the storm - now the future is brighter for England captain
Alastair Cook said support from his wife, Alice, had persuaded him to stay on as England captain after leading the side to a come-from-behind test series win over India.
After last month’s 95-run defeat by India in the second test at Lord’s, a result that meant England had gone 10 tests without a win, Cook faced calls from several former England captains to stand down as skipper.
But the determined opening batsman insisted he would not quit, despite presiding over a 5-0 Ashes loss in Australia and a 1-0 defeat in a two-test campaign at home to Sri Lanka immediately prior to the India series.
It was a decision vindicated by England ultimately defeating India 3-1 in a five-test series, a win completed with a crushing innings and 244-run victory at The Oval on Sunday.
“It was the support I had from my wife,” said Cook, when asked what had persuaded him against resigning as England captain.
“You can bare your soul to Alice and she’s very good at getting you back on the straight and narrow,” the Essex left-hander said.
England suffered a nailbiting match and series loss to Sri Lanka, with just two balls to spare, in the second test at Headingley after surrendering a strong hand on the fourth day.
“That was a tough night,” said Cook. “We’d let a winning position slip. The defeat by India at Lord’s was tough, too.”
However, the 29-year-old left-hander added: “But I’m quite stubborn, I believe in my ability and I’m a resilient guy – that was when I needed it most.
“I’m glad I stuck though the tough times, that is what sport is about – it tests your character. To bounce back as a team is a testament to our character, too.
“I don’t play this game to prove people right or wrong, I do it to try to win games of cricket for England.
“I’m here because I’m passionate about English cricket and believe I am the right man to take this team forward.”
It may be more than a year since Cook scored the last of his England record 25 test hundreds, but he ended a poor run of form with scores of 95 and 70 not out in England’s 266-run third test win at Southampton that altered the course of the series.
Things might have been different if he had not been dropped in the slips on 15 by Ravindra Jadeja during his first innings at the Ageas Bowl.
From then on there was no stopping England, who went on to defeat India by an innings and 54 runs in the fourth test at Old Trafford – a win that like their Oval success was completed inside three days.
“I remember saying, when we were 1-0 down, that I still thought we were going to win the series,” recalled Cook.
And with the Yorkshire duo of Joe Root and Gary Ballance both scoring more than 500 runs each in the series, and wickets from spearhead paceman James Anderson (25) and emerging off-spinner Moeen Ali (19), Cook was proved correct.
“Southampton was clearly a turning point for us, to finally get the win,” said Cook, who averaged nearly 50 with the bat in this series.
“Suddenly after that first day (there), there was a bit of confidence back in us as a side.”
Cook led England to a 2-1 win in a four-test series in India in 2012-13 and he said that victory trumped the one on home soil against the same opponents.
“I still think winning away in India was an amazing achievement, so I’m going to rank that one higher, in my eyes.
“But that still shouldn’t take away from the way we’ve played these last three games.
“English cricket needed a series win, and to deliver it like we have has put a big smile on our faces.”