An emotional Alastair Cook vowed not to abandon England in their hour of need after his team plunged to a 95-run defeat at Lord’s on Monday.
“I believe the team needs me to lead them through this tough time,” he said. “If it gets to the stage where my position becomes untenable, I will be honest to myself. To quit now, in the middle of the series, would be wrong.
“It’s tough, it’s been tough for a while now. We’ve had some fantastic times but now we’re in the middle of the darkest times I’ve experienced. We’ve just got to front up: there are no excuses. It will need iron-will and skill to turn this around.
“It gets harder and harder… the more we don’t win, and of course that heaps on you at the end of the day. Until that bloke taps me on the shoulder and says, ‘we don’t want you to captain’ I’m desperate to try to turn this around for England.
“If I’m not good enough at the end of the summer then so be it, but I’m trying my heart out to do this and I need to score runs and need to start winning but I’m here to as long as I’m wanted.”
A fifth-wicket partnership of 101 between Joe Root and Moeen Ali had given England a glimpse of an unexpected victory. But they lost their final five wickets for 50 in 70 bizarre minutes after lunch to hasten the loss.
“It is a tough defeat at Lord’s, the home of cricket and we have to give India a lot of credit,” Cook said. “They outbowled and outbatted us and that’s why they deserved to win.
“In our last innings the pitch was tuning and bouncing, that evened it up a little. But it was a good toss to win and we didn’t put ball in right areas enough first day, though India left very well, so they have to take a bit of credit for that. It’s an issue with confidence, getting over that line. We are desperate to win.”
Ishant Sharma took seven wickets as England came a cropper against the short deliveries.
Matt Prior was the first to go, pulling Ishant to deep mid-wicket. Ben Stokes pulled again and was caught for his fourth consecutive duck, and then, Joe Root, who had batted so well for 66, hoisted Ishant to deep square leg.
“If Matt is up for carrying on playing for England — a fabulous player for England — then he has a place because I think he is best wicketkeeper-batter in the country,” Cook said.
“He has to earn the right to play for England like everyone else. He’ll be hurting. But he is a fighter and you want people like that in your team.”
“You live and die by the sword you choose to take,” said Cook about his batsmen’s approach to the short-stuff hurled by Ishant.
“I am sure for the first few overs when we were taking them on, and suddenly that total required goes from 150 to 120, a bit of momentum changed. But it is a very high-risk strategy, and it didn’t come off.
“We keep giving ourselves opportunities in games, and we’re not taking them. We need to knock down that door. I don't know quite why we’re not taking those chances at the moment. Until we find that answer, we won’t win games,” he said.