England v Sri Lanka: I've never quit on anything, insists Alastair Cook

Captain defiant after heart-breaking defeat
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The Independent Online

Alastair Cook said he would refuse to quit as England captain after a heart-breaking defeat by Sri Lanka that left his team-mate Jimmy Anderson in tears.

A remarkable final day, on which England came within two deliveries of saving the match and making history, could not mask their desperate recent form under Cook's captaincy. Since the start of last winter's Ashes series, England have lost six of seven Tests.

But Cook insisted he remained the man to carry on. As there is little appetite to remove him within the England and Wales Cricket Board, it seems virtually certain that the 29-year-old will still be at the helm when England start their next Test, against India at Trent Bridge on 9 July.

"I've never quit on anything," he said. "I'm incredibly proud to be captain. If someone decided I'm not the right person for the job and results don't justify me then fine, but until that moment I'm desperate to try to help turn English cricket round.

"With runs hard to come by [Cook has not scored a Test century since May last year] it puts more pressure on me. I need to use these 10 days well, train hard, and hope to score runs against India.

"If you're not scoring runs and the team are losing, you won't be asked to stay on as captain for much longer. I'm in for the long haul as I believe I'm the right man for the job. I'm a determined bloke and I intend to turn this round. I will give blood, sweat and tears for this captaincy.

"I have to work incredibly hard before the India Test starts. I need to go back to what I've always done with the bat. Starting on Monday, I will be hitting as many balls as I can."

It looked as though they would save the game until Anderson steered a short ball, the penultimate delivery of the day, from Shaminda Eranga into the hands of Rangana Herath at short square leg, a mistake that left Anderson unable to contain his emotions after the game.

Moeen Ali's superb maiden Test century was a small consolation for Cook. He batted through the day to finish 108 not out and, following centuries for Sam Robson and Gary Ballance in this series, the captain can at least reflect that the newcomers are adapting well to Test cricket.

The reality is, however, that England are now fifth in the ICC Test rankings, less than three years since they climbed to the summit under the leadership of Andrew Strauss.

Cook was heartened, however, by the displays of the new men. "It was an incredible innings from Moeen, and young cricketers are pushing for places, which is at it should be. Jimmy's demeanour at the end of the game shows to everyone who doesn't know us what it means to play for England. Sometimes we're accused not caring that much when things don't go well, but that's the raw emotion of a guy who put everything into his innings.

"It would be wrong to look at this as a negative series because there were some brilliant performances from the young players, who have announced themselves in international cricket."

Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews revealed his team had been riled by the view of some in England that his bowling attack were not of the required standard for Test cricket. "There was a little bit of a debate saying that my attack is not good enough for county cricket," Mathews said, "but we proved we are today. It motivated us and I'm very happy."