Cricket News

Cook fears scars of collapse will hurt England in India

'We need to stay strong,' says the England cricket team captain

Published: 31st October 2016 09:21 AM  |   Last Updated: 31st October 2016 10:05 AM   |  A+A-

By The Daily Telegraph

Alastair Cook is worried his team could be psychologically scarred by one of the most spectacular collapses in England's history when they to head to India this week for the toughest leg of the winter.
England lost all 10 wickets for 64 runs in 135 balls as their batsmen were humiliated by Bangladesh's spinners, who bowled them out in less than a session to win the second Test by 108 runs.

Spinners Mehedi Hasan, who took 12 wickets in the match, and Shakib al Hasan inflicted all the damage to spark wild scenes of jubilation as Bangladesh celebrated their most famous victory, which came after England had appeared to be coasting at 100 for no wicket chasing 273 for victory.

England now have just 10 days to recover from the huge setback of losing their first-ever Test to Bangladesh and drawing the series against the ninth ranked team in the world. With seven Tests squeezed in to just eight weeks in Bangladesh and India, Cook has always feared that one bad result could cause the rot to set in and put the team on a downward spiral.

He now has to somehow lift his players before the first Test in Rajkot next week against an India team who are top of the world rankings and eager to avenge a 2-1 loss to England in 2012. England also have to find a method to play spin, with India possessing the world's best spinner in Ravi Ashwin and sure to prepare turning pitches.

"It could [have a damaging effect] and this is when we need to really stay strong as a group," Cook said. "When stuff like this happens, especially away from home - when you're at home, you can get away from it for a couple of days. But we haven't got that luxury. Where we are at the moment, with the security, getting out of the hotel is very hard. We have to watch guys and make sure we as a group stay together and put a few things on to take guys' minds away from it and when we are training make sure we're on the right track.

"It's very easy sitting back and saying it's just Bangladesh. But in these conditions on spinning wickets, their bowlers are good, they're experienced - I know the guy who got 19 wickets isn't experienced, but he's a very good bowler and he's experienced in these conditions. It has been really tough.

"A change of environment will be good for us. I don't mean it will be good to get out of Bangladesh, but we've been here for a while and then we go to India as pretty heavy underdogs But sometimes English people like being underdogs." 

In this part of the world collapses are a constant danger because it is so hard for batsmen to get a start against a turning ball with fielders around the bat. Bangladesh also play on confidence: when they are up, they are dangerous and England had no answer once they got on a roll.

Cook has seen a few spectacular collapses but struggled to explain this one after he and Ben Duckett had given the team such a good start. "It's easier said than done just surviving. Under that pressure, it's about being able to pick the length properly," he said. "Footwork to spinners, picking length, is more important, especially on turning wickets. Being able to do that with men around the bat [is hard] - any fatal mistake or misjudgement, you've got people there to catch it. In our practice over the next week or so, those first 30 balls in the nets, sometimes you can just cruise into a net session, we probably can't afford to do that." 

England fly to Mumbai on Wednesday, where most of the players will have four days off before heading to Rajkot at the weekend. But the management are also trying to arrange club matches for the players who did not feature in the Tests. Haseeb Hameed and Jos Buttler are in contention to take Gary Ballance's place after he failed to reach double figures in four innings, but they have not batted in the middle for two weeks.

Cook will also attempt to persuade Andrew Strauss, the team director, to allow James Anderson to join with the team early. Anderson has been ruled out of the first Test as he recovers from a shoulder injury but Cook wants his friend and most senior bowler by his side in the hope he will be fit sooner than expected. Strauss wants Anderson to play a match before he can be considered for a Test. But England do not have any warm-up games.

Anderson had hoped to play a club game in Mumbai while the team are in Rajkot but Reg Dickason, the team's security officer, is not allowing players to travel away from the squad.
Anderson has been bowling in the nets at Old Trafford and emailing video clips to Strauss to persuade him he is fit. A decision will be made this week.

For Bangladesh this was a famous win, one their Test captain, Mushfiqur Rahim, hopes will be the start of a new era. "It is a very big achievement in Bangladesh's history," he said. "It came against a very good England side but there will be a time when we will win a series 2-0 against any big team. This is a start."

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