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By Julian Guyer
Manchester: Aug 10, 2014
England coach Peter Moores insisted he was always confident captain Alastair Cook had it in him to lead the team out of their lengthy slump. When India beat England by 95 runs to win the second Test at Lord’s and go 1-0 up in the five-match series, Cook had presided over a run of 10 Tests without a win, including seven defeats.
Several former England skippers called on him to resign the captaincy and some even went so far as to suggest the opener take a break from the game after a run of low scores. But two fifties, including a first-innings 95 where he was dropped on 15, saw Cook return to form in the third Test at Southampton which England won by 266 runs.
With their confidence restored, England thrashed India by an innings and 54 runs inside three days to win the fourth Test at Old Trafford on Saturday and now they lead 2-1 ahead of next week’s finale at The Oval. Moores, in his second spell as England coach after being summoned from Old Trafford-based Lancashire following the team’s 5-0 Ashes thrashing in Australia, had made it clear from the moment of his return that he wanted to support Cook.
And the 29-year-old’s mental resilience has impressed Moores.
“I think the significant point was when he came out and said he was in it for the long haul,” Moores explained.
“If people didn’t want him, that was fine, he would move on — but he made pretty public his desire to captain England.
“He is very determined. The more people have had a go at him, the more he has said he is totally in for it.
“He is developing quickly as a captain tactically and has great values to lead with from example.
“He would openly admit that at times he has had a really tough ride but often that can forge somebody into something special.”
On a good cricket wicket, England skittled out India for 152 after reducing the tourists to eight for four on the first day.
Even with half a day lost to rain on Friday, with a huge downpour in Manchester on Sunday leaving India thinking about what might have been had their batsmen showed more determination, England swept away the tourists.
India lost nine second-innings wickets after tea on Saturday, a collapse made all the more astonishing by the fact England paceman Stuart Broad — man-of-the-match for his first innings six for 25 — was off the field after suffering a broken nose while batting.
But in a sign of the team’s changed fortunes off-spinner Moeen Ali, whom Cook seemed reluctant to use as a bowler when the all-rounder made his Test debut against Sri Lanka earlier this season, took four for 39 on Saturday.
“We played some good cricket at times but didn’t put it together for any length of time,” said Moores when asked what had changed in recent weeks.
“We have now played pretty consistently all the way through the last Test and pretty much all the way through this one.
“We had seen a lot of the younger players do well and the senior players hadn’t really fired, but the fact that the senior players have really performed well over the last couple of games has really added something to us.
“At the end of the Lord’s game, that was a real low point. We were all very disappointed — but that allows you to regroup.”
However, Moores added: “We have won two Tests but we have got to be pretty careful we don’t get carried away.”
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