Saturday 25 November 2017

Morgan set for captaincy as Cook sits out Windies tour

English captain Alastair Cook glances nervously at the scoreboard during game three of the One Day International Series between Australia and England
English captain Alastair Cook glances nervously at the scoreboard during game three of the One Day International Series between Australia and England

Nick Hoult in Adelaide

Alastair Cook goes home today looking forward to "seeing a few sheep" but with important decisions to make about the future direction of the England team.

A gut-wrenching final-over defeat by five runs completed a miserable tour for Cook, who won just one match in 10 against Australia and saw his reputation as England captain severely dented.

He will survive as skipper and be handed the authority by his England and Wales Cricket Board bosses, along with team director Andy Flower, to make changes, with the future of Kevin Pietersen top of the list of decisions he has to make.

Early next week England will name their squad for the short tour to the West Indies, a dry run for the World T20 in Bangladesh in March, and if Pietersen does not feature then his international career will almost certainly be over.

Cook, who has already held preliminary discussions with Paul Downton, will seek solace on the sheep farm owned by his wife's family and is due to become a father for the first time in March as cricket takes a back seat after a gruelling tour.

BURDENS

He will not go to the West Indies as he is not part of the Twenty20 side, giving him time to recharge and work on his batting, which has suffered from the burdens of captaincy over the past six months.

Stuart Broad takes over the running of the side today as Twenty20 captain and is likely to share the job with Eoin Morgan in the West Indies, where England play three 50-over matches and three Twenty20s.

The absence of a player with Pietersen's talent and experience on a slow pitch which deceived most players was keenly felt as England's batsmen threw away a winning position and Michael Clarke's side held their nerve to deliver victory on Australia Day.

With 55 required, England had six wickets in hand and Joe Root and Morgan seemed to be coasting towards victory.

But Morgan mistimed a drive to mid-off and Root was caught at short fine-leg for 55 off 86 balls trying a scoop shot as James Faulkner struck twice in a batting Powerplay that turned the match.

Once again England's bowlers were let down by the batsmen. Broad had shown pace and discipline to take 3-31, bowling dangerman Aaron Finch after he was twice dropped in the opening overs, dismissing Shane Watson lbw playing across his pad, then returning to the attack to bowl Matthew Wade around his legs just when the wicketkeeper looked to accelerate in the final overs.

Chris Jordan took 2-37, with two wickets in his final over just reward for his best bowling performance of the series. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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