England v India: Alastair Cook under siege in numbers game

Without a win for 10 Tests and a captain who hasn't scored a century in 27 innings it's getting desperate

The figures 10 and 27 are a potent combination. If they rise by one and two respectively in the next five days, they will become toxic.

England have gone 10 Test matches without a victory, Alastair Cook has been 27 innings without a hundred. The team have lost two series, they are behind in a third, Cook's batting average this summer after seven innings is 16.43. In both cases it seems to be going from bad to worse.

The growing cause of those who insist it is time for Cook to depart as captain was joined yesterday by Kevin Pietersen in his new newspaper column. Other former captains such as Mike Atherton and Michael Vaughan had already put in their tuppence-worth.

Cook was not for dwelling on the resignation or anything like it at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton yesterday, where the Third Test of the Investec series against India begins today. He has been given a job to do; he still thinks he is the man to do it.

"As I keep saying in every press conference, I am desperate to carry on because I love being England's captain," he said. "It's a huge honour."

As for Pietersen's comments, they changed nothing in Cook's view: "The last three or four weeks everyone's been saying that. It's no difference who else says it.

"I've just got to stay true to myself and say how good it would be if I could get through this as a person, as a player, as a leader, and take huge strides from it. If I don't get through it, it is what it is".

There have been worse sequences without both wins and centuries. After beating Australia in December 1986 England went 18 matches of which they lost seven and drew 11. For the first 14 of them they were lead by Mike Gatting, who was overthrown not by lack of result or form but because of some dalliance with a barmaid which found its way into the tabloids.

The last England batsman to go as many as 27 innings without a hundred was, surprisingly, Pietersen, from May 2009 to December 2010, when he broke the run with a spectacular 227 in Adelaide. But there has never quite been a set of circumstances like these. For much of the 1980s and 1990s England were something of an endearing laughing stock. They lost, but no one minded much, because they were expected to.

Two things happened. In 2005, miraculously, after a period of vast improvement, England regained the Ashes after 16 years. The nation was joyous. Losing them again 18 months later was shocking, not because of the defeat but because of the nature of the 5-0 whitewash.

An enquiry was launched after which systems and structures were put in place. Before too long England, with a hiccup or two regarding Pietersen, were cocks of the walk. So cocky were they that not only did they win the Ashes three times in a row and became No 1 in the world, they appointed the next captain.

Cook was to be Andrew Strauss's successor from a long way out. That was part of the systems and structures. It was all intended to make sure England stayed at or near the top, that there would never again be humiliation on a grand scale.

And thus the present state has been reached. England are ranked in the middle of the Test table now, and could slip as low as sixth if they cannot get back into this series against India.

The structure is such that they cannot find a spin bowler in the entire country who is worth picking. What an indictment of the system that is.

The players look weary. A win might change everything, but they have forgotten how to win. There is small reason for optimism. Four of the batsmen have scored centuries this summer, and the selection of Joss Buttler as wicketkeeper-batsman sets the pulse racing. He should have been in before.

A word here about Matt Prior, whom Buttler has replaced. The last part of Prior's Test career, if that is what it proves to be, did not go entirely as he would have wished. But for three or four years he was a wicketkeeper-batsman for the ages, a true team man who cajoled the boys in the fields and always batted to fit the state of the match.

He was some batsman in full stride, and his spring-heeled agility was wondrous behind the stumps. The heels were what did for him, the Achilles stretched to breaking point. Buttler is a welcome addition, but Prior is only the most recent in a litany of splendid wicketkeepers he follows.

Cook needs runs, England need victories. And both need those things desperately.

Probable teams

England A N Cook (capt), S D Robson, G S Ballance, I R Bell, J E Root, M M Ali, J C Buttler (wkt), B A Stokes, S C J Broad, L J Plunkett, J M Anderson.

India S Dhawan, M Vijay, C A Pujara, V Kohli, A M Rahane, M S Dhoni (capt, wkt), R A Jadeja, S T R Binny, B Kumar, I Sharma, M Shami.

Umpires M Erasmus (SA) & R Tucker (Aus).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss
Tony Blair joins a strange and exclusive club of political leaders whose careers have been blighted by the Middle East

Blair has joined a strange and exclusive club

A new tomb has just gone up in the Middle East's graveyard of US and British political reputations, says Patrick Cockburn
Election 2015: Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May

Election 2015

Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May
Countdown to the election: Operation Save Danny Alexander shifts into high gear as the SNP target his Commons seat

Operation Save Danny Alexander shifts into high gear

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury didn’t forget his Highland roots in the Budget. But the SNP is after his Commons seat
The US economy is under threat because of its neglected infrastructure

The US is getting frayed at the edges

Public spending on infrastructure is only half of Europe’s, and some say the nation’s very prosperity is threatened, says Rupert Cornwell
Mad Men final episodes: Museum exhibition just part of the hoopla greeting end of 1960s-set TV hit

New Yorkers raise a glass to Mad Men

A museum exhibition is just part of the hoopla greeting the final run of the 1960s-set TV hit
Land speed record: British-built hybrid rocket car aims to be the fastest on Earth

British-built hybrid rocket car aims to be the fastest on Earth

Bloodhound SSC will attempt to set a new standard in South Africa's Kalahari desert
Housebuilders go back to basics by using traditional methods and materials

Housebuilders go back to basics - throwing mud at the wall until it sticks

Traditional materials are ticking all the construction boxes: they are cheap, green – and anyone can use them
Daniel Brühl: 'When you have success abroad, you become a traitor. Envy is very German'

Daniel Brühl: 'Envy is very German'

He's got stick for his golden acting career and for his beloved restaurant - but Daniel Brühl is staying put in Berlin (where at least the grannies love him)
How Leica transformed photography for ever: Celebrating 100 years of the famous camera

Celebrating 100 years of Leica

A new book reveals how this elegant, lightweight box of tricks would transform the way we saw life on the street and in fashion, on the battlefield and across the world