Cook delighted after a series victory over Sri Lanka

Alastair Cook garnered 298 runs at a meaty average of 74.50 in the ODI series against Sri Lanka and was adjudged man-of-the-series AFP

By Julian Guyer

Manchester (United Kingdom): Jul 10, 2011

England’s new one-day captain Alastair Cook had the ideal riposte to his detractors after being named man-of-the-series in a 3-2 win over Sri Lanka.

England came from 2-1 behind to seal a series victory against the World Cup finalists with a 16-run success in the fifth and final one-day international at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Although 26-year-old left-handed opener Cook managed just 31 in this match, his runs came in 35 balls. Only a few months earlier he had been left out of the World Cup squad on account of supposedly being unable to score quickly enough. Cook then found himself labelled a “plodder” by former England captain Michael Atherton when promoted to the one-day leadership following Test skipper Andrew Strauss’s decision to quit the shorter format.

Yet the 26-year-old left-handed opener’s series return against Sri Lanka of 298 runs at 74.50, including a career-best of 119 at Lord’s, and at a strike-rate of 96.75 backed up cricket great Sir Garfield Sobers’ assertion that “Alastair Cook can play as good as any one-day player”.

However, Ashes star Cook insisted barbs from the likes of Atherton had not provided him with additional motivation. “I don’t do it to prove anyone wrong,” Cook said after a hard-fought victory in front of a capacity 19,000 crowd at a sun-drenched Old Trafford.

“I do it for the satisfaction that we got in that final half-hour of the game, and you can’t replicate that. That’s why you play the game.” Cook, who led England in both Test and one-day formats when Strauss opted out of last year’s tour of Bangladesh, added: “That’s the first time I’ve had a really tight scenario in my eight games as one-day captain, and I thought we handled it well. “I think the most pleasing aspect is the way we fought back from 2-1 down in the series.

“Everyone was writing us off, and we’ve played well in these past two games in all conditions on spinning wickets and flat wickets.” England made 268 for nine after Cook won the toss with man-of-the-match Jonathan Trott, who made 72, and Eoin Morgan (57) sharing what turned out to be a decisive fourth-wicket partnership of 118.

Fast-medium bowler Tim Bresnan struck twice early on as Sri Lanka collapsed to 29 for three. But a sixth-wicket stand of 102 between Angelo Mathews (62) and Jeevan Mendis (48) threatened to take the match away from England.

However, fledgling international bowler Jade Dernbach, who retained his place while his more experienced fellow seamer Stuart Broad was dropped, settled the match. Dernbach deceived Mathews with a superb slower delivery and next ball yorked Lasith Malinga as England wrapped up the series with 10 balls to spare.

“He has bowled really well at the death,” a delighted Cook said of 25-year-old Surrey paceman Dernbach. “And one of the main reasons he’s been brought into that side is because of the skills he has – and you saw it at the end there, a slower ball followed by a yorker.”

Cook, however, had words of consolation for Broad, whose two wickets in four matches this series came at a hugely expensive average of 95.50 apiece. “It’s obviously a tough pill for him (Broad) to swallow, but his record in one-day cricket is outstanding. Just because he hasn’t taken the wickets he would have liked doesn’t mean he won’t be back,” Cook added.

Meanwhile Cook said England’s win might have been more emphatic had their batsmen made the most of a platform that saw the hosts 213 for three at one stage in their innings. “From the position we got ourselves into, we would have liked 280 or 290. “Credit the way they bowled, but we probably could have killed the game off there and then.”