Alastair Cook revealed his wife had talked him out of quitting as England captain just two months before he led them to a comprehensive series victory over India.
Cook admitted he had been close to relieving himself of his leadership role on the fourth evening of the Headingley Test against Sri Lanka in June, after England endured a terrible day.
But a heart-to-heart with wife Alice convinced Cook he was still the man to guide England and even though they would lose that game, and later the second Test against India at Lord’s, the 29-year-old was not for turning.
“The support I had from my wife was crucial,” Cook said after England triumphed by an innings and 244 runs, bowling out India for just 94 in the second innings at the Kia Oval. “You can bear your soul quite often to Alice and she’s very good at getting me back on the straight and narrow.
“That fourth night was a tough moment because we let a winning position slip. But I’m quite stubborn and believe in my ability, and I was resilient when I most needed to be. I’m glad I stuck at it through tough times.
“I don’t play the game to prove people right or wrong, but to win games for England and do my best. I’m not going to be gloating, because that’s not who I am. I’m passionate about English cricket.
“I believe I’m the right man to lead the team forward alongside [coach] Peter Moores and the senior guys.
“I’m very privileged to be England captain. It’s a great job even through the tough times. You do it for such a short period that you have to hold on to it for as long as you can, and give everything.”
Cook’s turnaround in fortunes has been mirrored by that experienced by James Anderson, who finished the five Test matches with 25 wickets and was named man of the series. He needs four more wickets to pass Sir Ian Botham’s tally of 383 to become England’s leading bowler in Tests.
If India had got their way, Anderson would probably not have been involved in the final two Tests of the series. However, the International Cricket Board’s level three charge of misconduct handed to him for his altercation with Ravindra Jadeja in the first Test at Trent Bridge, was dropped earlier this month when he was cleared of any wrongdoing.
Anderson admitted the incident had taught him to behave in a slightly more calm manner on the field.
“Maybe it distracted them [India] a bit,” Cook said. “They concentrated on other stuff as a tactic to try to get Jimmy out of the side. We all know how important he is.”
Anderson said he was now letting his cricket do all the talking. “I’ve always tried to be aggressive, because it’s what I need to be successful,” he said. “But in the last few games I’ve possibly concentrated on being aggressive with the ball, rather than with my mouth. I’m bowling as well as I [ever] have.”
In nine Tests as captain in England, MS Dhoni has lost seven and won only one. There are four one-day internationals and a Twenty20 contest still left this summer, but Dhoni raised doubts about his future when asked whether he would carry on in charge.
“Have I taken the team as far as I can? Maybe yes,” the India captain said. “You will have to wait and watch. Whether I’m strong enough or not, you’ll get the news. Why we can’t bat for more than one session is very difficult to answer.”