Alastair Cook, England’s legendary opening batsman delivered a stinging rebuke to the current team’s batsmen by saying they “can’t handle” the pressure of Test cricket as they suffered a humiliating Test series loss to New Zealand at Edgbaston on Sunday.
New Zealand won a two-match Test contest 1-0, taking just 11 overs and 52 minutes playing time on the fourth day to complete a convincing eight-wicket win in the second Test after being set a meager target of 38. Tailender Olly Stone was out to the very first ball of Sunday’s fourth day but by then the damage had already been done, with England resuming on their overnight score of 122/9.
Alastair Cook: England Batsmen Can’t Handle Intensity Of Test Cricket Under Pressure
Although current England skipper Joe Root, Alastair Cook’s successor as England captain, boasts an impressive Test average of 48.68, the next best in his side belongs to opener Rory Burns, with 33.23 — a worrying sign ahead of their bid to regain the Ashes in Australia later this year.
Meanwhile, the form of batsmen Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley, and Ollie Pope remains a concern, not least to Essex opener Alastair Cook, who retired from Test duty in 2018 as England’s leading scorer with 12,472 runs at an average of 45.35, including 33 hundred. Having only retired in 2018 and while the team contains fresh faces Alastair Cook knows some of the key senior figures better than anyone, including his successor Joe Root.
“From what I’ve seen of this batting line-up when the pressure comes on, the intensity of Test cricket, the scrutiny of it, they can’t handle it,” said Alastair Cook while commentating for BBC Radio’s Test Match Special on Sunday.
“They have quirky techniques, but they’ve scored a lot of runs in county cricket and at times scored Test runs. When the pressure comes, they are not handling the mental pressure that you need to do,” Alastair Cook added.
“It is a massive area of concern for me,” saids Alastair Cook.
New Zealand on Sunday toppled India to become the number one ranked Test team in the world. The Kiwis achieved the feat after defeating England 1-0 in the two-match Test series on Sunday. New Zealand now has 123 points in ICC Team Test Rankings while India has 121 points. Sunday’s defeat, which followed a draw at Lord’s, meant England had lost a home Test series for the first time since a 1-0 reverse against Sri Lanka in 2014.
Joe Root Warns Against Wholesale Changes As He Feels It Would Be The Wrong Time To Panic
But Joe Root, ahead of a five-match Test series at home to India — who face New Zealand in next week’s inaugural World Test Championship final at Southampton, warned against wholesale changes.
“It would be the wrong time to start panicking and rip up all the hard work we have done for such a long period of time,” he said. “Historically we’ve done that going into major tournaments and going into major series and it’s made things even worse.”
He added: “We’ve been outplayed in all three departments and particularly batting.”
England entered this match amid the off-field furore caused by the suspension of Ollie Robinson for historic racist and sexist Twitter posts.
Joe Root, however, insisted: “I don’t think that dripped into the way we played and it would be a bit of an excuse, to be honest.”
England, already without the injured all-rounder Ben Stokes and pacer Jofra Archer, rested batsman Jos Buttler, all-rounder Chris Woakes, batsman Jonny Bairstow, and spin all-rounder Moeen Ali from this series after their return from the now-suspended IPL 2021. Rest and rotation, initially a response to the pressures of ‘bubble’ life amid the coronavirus pandemic, has been a feature of England’s selection for more than a year.
England coach Chris Silverwood, now in sole charge of picking the side has repeatedly defended the policy. But England, beaten 3-1 in India earlier this year, appear to be nowhere near good enough to avoid selecting their best-available team.
“That’s out of my hands, to a degree,” said Joe Root. “In terms of having our best XI, I’d like to think that if we are all fit and ready, that will be the case for the five-Test matches against India.”