Alastair Cook (above) made an error in judgement and was trapped leg before wicket by Ryan Harris on the second ball of the second day © Getty Images
By Robert Smith
Sydney: Jan 4, 2014
Under-fire skipper Alastair Cook should remain and become part of England‘s team rebuilding in the wake of their Ashes series humiliation, former captain Graham Gooch said on Saturday.
The tourists are staring at another heavy defeat and a 5-0 series whitewash in the final Sydney Test after a first innings capitulation and trailing Australia by 311 runs with six wickets intact at the end of day two.
England’s plight was underscored by Cook’s inexplicable decision not to play a shot and a trapped leg before wicket by Ryan Harris on the second ball of the day as a prelude to the tourists’ collapse to be all out for 155.
All positions in England’s demoralised team and back-room staff are expected to come under review at the end of the series, but Gooch, the team’s batting coach, backed Cook to be part of the solution to the English team’s malaise.
“He [Cook] is not contributing the weight of runs that we have come to expect from him. He’s not been at his best and he’s been under pressure from the Australian bowlers but he’s still delivered a little bit,” Gooch told reporters.
“Ultimately, the individual is the only one who can make that decision, but for me he’s still a guy who is learning and who should be there when some kind of rebuilding takes place.”
Gooch said it was not the weight of responsibility of captaincy that contributed to Cook’s abject dismissal on Saturday.
“He made an error in judgement which happens to any batsmen. It’s particularly poignant when it happens like that at the beginning of the day when you’re trying to set the tone and you’re trying to lead from the front,” he said.
“He’s a guy who likes to lead from the front, especially with the willow (bat), so it was not a great start. I wouldn’t say he made that mistake purely as captain and under pressure, but it’s been a problem for us all through the tour.”
“We’ve made too many errors in the batsmanship and not fought our way into positions and have not been able to release the stranglehold of the Australian pace attack in particular. We’ve only had one hundred and that’s not going to win you anything.”
“Everyone has to look at themselves. That’s the coaches, the players, they’re all going to be under scrutiny, quite rightly, and we all have to take it on the chin and we have to take the criticism. If you play the way we’ve played the brutal truth is it’s not good enough.”
“We have to look at ways to move forward and we have to look to ways to improve, even if that might entail taking some more pain before that gets better.”
Gooch said there will be a team rebuilding process after the “debris” of the tour.
“We’ll have to have a look at it and see if there’s a better way or the powers that be will definitely be reviewing everybody, so we’ll all be under scrutiny,” he said.
“Everyone on this tour would not like to leave under the circumstances and the debris of this tour.”
Gooch said there were three reasons why Cook and the team’s other senior batsmen Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen had not performed in the Ashes series.
“There are three immediate reasons why they have struggled and that is (Australian pacemen) Harris, [Mitchell] Johnson and [Peter] Siddle, have all bowled pretty well and (spinner) [Nathan] Lyon has backed them up pretty well,” he said.
“Australia have been on their game, but you still expect players of that calibre and with that record behind them to score that proportion of runs.”