England v Sri Lanka: Captain Alastair Cook has hit back at criticism over his leadership style
Last Updated: 20/06/14 1:18pm
England captain Alastair Cook has hit back at critics questioning his style of leadership ahead of Friday's second Test against Sri Lanka.
The opening batsman's credentials have come under scrutiny from a number of quarters with former Australia leg-spinner Shane Warne particularly vociferous over his tactics and style.
Prior to England's 5-0 Ashes series defeat over the winter, Warne branded Cook 'negative and boring' and advised the ECB to ditch him in favour of Kevin Pietersen, who has since quit the international scene.
When questioned on Warne's claims in the final press conference ahead of the Headingley Test, Cook said: "Something needs to be done because in the three years I've been England captain I have been criticised for a hell of a lot of that.
The real difference is I haven't been converting those chances into big scores which I did at the beginning of my captaincy.
"Yes, when we lose games of cricket as a captain you get criticised but I've also won a lot of games of cricket for England, won more one-day games than anyone as England captain, won an Ashes, won in India away and that's what I'm proud of as well.
"So to be criticised for three years, totally, with those results, I find quite hard to take to be honest with you. Support and positivity is what this England team needs."
When asked if he believed it was personal, the Essex batsman added: "Yeah, I think it is."
However, Cook did admit his current form is a concern heading into the second and final Test against the Sri Lankans.
Cook, who scored just 17 and 28 in last week's drawn first Test at Lord's, is desperate to rediscover the form he showed in the early days of leading his country.
In his opening 11 Tests as skipper, the opening batsman scored 1,311 runs compared to just 568 in his last 11, and Cook admits he is concerned about his current form.
"It is a concern, it's crucial that I get back to scoring as many runs as I can," he said.
"I'm doing all the hard work and I just have to score the runs in the middle. I saw a stat on my batting where the first 10 or 12 games as captain I scored six or sevens hundreds and in the next 12 games I scored seven 50s and no hundreds.
"So the real difference is I haven't been converting those chances into big scores which I did at the beginning of my captaincy. That's the frustrating thing for me and I'm doubly determined to lead from the front and try and get a score."
And Cook is confident England can build on the impressive performance at Lord's where Sri Lanka's final-wicket pairing stubbornly held out for a draw.
"We played really well there but that's gone and we have to start again," he said."We have to earn the right to get into the positions we put ourselves into at Lord's.
"We eventually dominated Sri Lanka but it took four-and-a-half days of really hard work to do that and I expect nothing different this week.
"We have been pushed in all the one-dayers, and at certain times during the Test match as well, but we want to win this game, we want to win the series, and to do that we have to play some good cricket."
Captain Angelo Mathews insists Sri Lanka will not be settling for a drawn series in the second Investec Test.
If we can win the game, that's what we're looking for, not really a draw.
Sri Lanka held on nine wickets down in the fourth innings at Lord's and if they managed a repeat in Leeds it would represent an impressive return for the tourists, who have often floundered in English conditions.
The tourists have won just two Tests away to England, losing and drawing six apiece, but all-rounder Mathews is approaching the game in positive spirits.
“If we can win the game, that's what we're looking for, not really a draw,” said Mathews. “We can't really predict anything, we've just got to go out there, play positive cricket and try to win.
"Those little situations where we have to toughen up - there will be so many situations like that over the next five days - and we'll be looking forward to it.
"If needed, we'll try to change our plans and tactics a little bit, but all in all our strength is to keep it line and length and bowl in those good areas.
"Test cricket is all about challenging people. It's about thinking a step further than the batsman. If we have to make those tactical changes we will."
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