Ashes 2013: Alastair Cook shrugs off England captaincy questions
Ashes 2013: Alastair Cook insists the England captaincy isn't affecting the level of his performances ahead of the fifth Test
Alastair Cook has dismissed claims that the England captaincy is starting to hinder his stellar batting record ahead of the fifth Ashes Test at The Oval.
Since assuming the reins from the previous incumbent Andrew Strauss, England have more or less romped to three Test series victories out of four.
For those 13 Test matches, Cook has continued his wonderful batting form, hitting five Tons, but for the last eight innings in this Ashes series, Cook has failed to reach three figures.
The 28-year-old said: “I think as an England captain or any captain of an international side criticism has to be water off a duck’s back. Quite rightly everyone has got an opinion. That is one of the beauties of cricket and you’ve all got an opinion about it.
“I can only go with what I believe because if I pretend to be someone else I am not being true to myself or that authenticity loses a leader, if you try and do that. I can only talk about the results of the last year.
“We’ve won in India, we beat New Zealand and we won the Ashes – they are three quite big series. I am quite proud of that as a captain.”
During Cook’s tenure as skipper, he has become the nation’s leading Test century-maker and the youngest player to reach 7,000 runs.
He has surpassed many England legends of yesteryear in the run charts and could, potentially, smash international records with age on his side.
Yet, Cook’s failure to lead from the front in this Ashes series – a feat he has done so well in the past – has caused murmurs to spring up about the pressure he faces as England captain.
In eight innings, Cook averages 27.25 but has accumulated three fifties to his credit.
“I have given my batting just as much attention as if I wasn’t captain,” he added, speaking at a new conference at The Oval on Tuesday.
“Sometimes it is just the natural ebb and flow of form; things haven’t been quite as good this summer as they have been for a couple of years.
“All I can do is know that my record suggests I will score runs – I have done that in the past.
“I am hammering the basics and hopefully it will just be a matter of time before the runs return – you just need that little bit of luck that you always need at the top of the order and get that score.
“You can change a series very quickly can’t you? I have had three fifties and if you turn two of those in hundreds it changes you’re outlook of the series.
“It hasn’t been a good as I would have liked but I certainly feel I have contributed.”
Meanwhile, Australian all-rounder James Faulkner will make his Test debut in the fifth Test, replacing Usman Khawaja. Bowler Jackson Bird will be replaced by Mitchell Starc, who comes back into the side after being dropped.
The fifth Test begins on Wednesday at the Kia Oval, with England looking to achieve a 4-0 score line for the first time in Ashes history.