England captain Alastair Cook will sit out the forthcoming one-day series in the West Indies as he prepares to hold talks with senior team management over the “route forward” following a miserable tour of Australia.
A dramatic five-run defeat in the fifth and final one-day international in Adelaide put England out of their misery yesterday. The tourists had appeared well set to chase down 217, on a slow wicket, only to suffer a ninth defeat in ten games Down Under this winter.
Cook will now fly home today with just one win over Australia – in Perth last Friday – to show for three months of touring. Victory for the hosts meant they won the series 4-1 and were able to celebrate victory on Australia Day.
Cook’s absence from the three ODIs in the Caribbean is a move calculated to give Twenty20 captain Stuart Broad and limited-overs coach Ashley Giles the time to prepare for the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh starting in March.
Instead, Cook will spend the next few months recuperating from defeats in the Ashes and in the subsequent one-day matches – by an aggregate of 9-1 – and plotting how improvements can be made with team director Andy Flower and managing director Paul Downton.
He has indicated his own intention to stay on as captain, after appearing to be considering his position following the decisive one-day loss in Sydney.
However, when asked if he would be captain against the West Indies following the five-run loss in the final ODI in Adelaide, Cook said: “No I won’t be. The Twenty20 guys have got their World Cup in Bangladesh and I think we see it as a great six weeks for them to start building the team. They’re never together very often and it gives them, and Broady and Gilo, time to really have six weeks together to build for Bangladesh.”
Cook is looking forward to some time away from cricket, before discussions begin over how to rebuild following the disappointments of the winter.
“It has been a challenging tour for me. I can’t not say that,” he admitted. “It’s been a real tough tour for me. I am not exhausted, but I’m ready to put the pads away for a couple of weeks or so. I will enjoy seeing my pregnant wife. I’ll enjoy seeing a few sheep [on the family farm] for a bit.”
Cook revealed any meeting with Flower, when the future of players such as Kevin Pietersen is also set to be on the agenda, would take place in the coming weeks.
“It’s quite hard to say here when I’m 15,000 miles away and jet lag to come. I’ve been speaking to Andy, like you do, and over the next week or so I’ll meet up with him personally and we’ll plan our route forward.”
Giles also gave his backing to Cook staying on as one-day captain after England were reminded of their all-round inferiority to an Australian side who have remembered how to win.
Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes claimed three wickets apiece in a suffocating bowling performance that restricted Australia to their lowest score of the series.
England were on course at 154 for three following a half-century from Joe Root, but lost their last seven wickets for 59 runs to be bowled out for 212.
Victory moved Michael Clarke’s team back to the top of the one-day rankings and the captain believes that was just reward after snatching victory away.
“That’s as satisfying a win as we’ve had recently as a one-day unit,” he said. “Winning tonight shows the confidence we have. We believe we can win no matter what position we are in.”