ALASTAIR Cook is anxious to start England’s 2014 “journey” by kicking their losing habit, against Sri Lanka at the Oval.
England began their summer schedule with a one-day international success against Scotland two weeks ago. But, in Cook’s absence, there was a reminder of their miserable winter in Tuesday’s NatWest Twenty20 defeat by world champions Sri Lanka.
The two sides return to the same venue today, with Cook taking over from stand-in Twenty20 captain Eoin Morgan for a five-match Royal London ODI series.
Cook concedes a T20 victory would have been preferable, but believes there were nonetheless encouraging signs in the nine-run defeat. He said: “Any time you win is good. But credit to Sri Lanka – they played very well, and we couldn’t quite get over the line. At the crucial moments, we didn’t quite get our skills right – whether it was with the ball, bat or fielding.
“Maybe it’s the habit of not winning many games of cricket recently. These are games which, when you’re flying, as Sri Lanka are as world champions, you find a way of winning.”
Cook acknowledges that Sri Lanka will have extra confidence after their win, but insists his own side remain optimistic, too.
“It does help when you’ve beaten a side. Certainly in our camp, you’d feel a lot better. When you’re on the end of a loss, with a few different players coming back in, you won’t look too much into the Twenty20 game. But, of course, we would like to have won it.”
After England’s winter Ashes whitewash and early exit from the ICC World Twenty20, Cook is impatient to get started again with a new management regime under head coach Peter Moores.
“Since Australia, it’s been a long time and we just want to get out there and play some cricket, and start whatever’s going to happen, the journey of the next year or so.
“It’s a bit weird. You turn up and train with half the guys, because the others are resting from Twenty20.
“Against Scotland, we put in a decent performance. But the summer starts now.”
Meanwhile, Australia captain Michael Clarke has expressed his regret at his use of “unacceptable” language towards England tail-ender James Anderson in the first Ashes Test last winter.
Clarke was fined 20 per cent of his match fee by the International Cricket Council for telling Anderson to “get ready to have your ****ing arm broken” during the November encounter at the Gabba, which the hosts went on to win enroute to a 5-0 whitewash.
The remark was picked up by the on-ground stump microphone and inadvertently relayed to the watching world.
Clarke acknowledged the confrontation, which was allegedly sparked when Anderson threatened to punch Australia Test debutant George Bailey in the face, may not have shown him in a good light and was remorseful for that, but did not regret standing up for his team-mate.
“Maybe I hadn’t said exactly what I said to James Anderson [previously], but I’d stuck up for my players on a number of occasions and it’s never been picked up on the stump mic,” Clarke said in an interview with www.cricket.com.au.
“Nobody has ever spoken about it. And, when I say I regret it, I regret the language I used and I regret that I said it over the stump mic.
“The last thing I want is for boys and girls watching cricket to be going and playing club cricket and saying things like that to opposition players.
“I think it’s unacceptable that the Australian cricket captain is setting that example. But I don’t regret standing up for George Bailey one bit. I don’t regret being extremely honest with James Anderson and telling him what Mitchell Johnson’s plan was. I don’t regret that – I just regret that everybody heard it and the language I used.”