Media wrap: England's defeat at Lord's

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The media had a lot to write about following England's 95-run defeat to India at Lord's, and most chose to focus on the hosts' failures, from Alastair Cook's captaincy, to Matt Prior's place in the side.

The media had a lot to write about following England's 95-run defeat to India at Lord's, and most chose to focus on the hosts' failures, from Alastair Cook's captaincy, Matt Prior's place in the side, and Kevin Pietersen's continued absence.

The <i>BBC</i>'s <b>Jonathan Agnew</b> was one of the few voices to defend Cook's decision to stay on as skipper, saying: "England's dismal displays this summer have inevitably led to calls for captain Alastair Cook to resign, but I am not surprised he is staying on. He is utterly determined to turn this around and you have to admire his attitude. Others might have given up by now, but he has this very steely core and simply refuses to give in.

"Cook might take a different view if he could look around the dressing-room and see someone who could step in right now and take England forward, someone in good form who is content with own game. But there isn't anybody. Cook clearly views himself as the only leadership candidate at the moment and it is hard to disagree with him. You can't just cast around blindly and bring anybody in the hope that fortunes turn. It has to be someone who can do the job."

Former England skipper <b>Michael Vaughan</b> felt Cook should step down for his own good, to prolong his career, writing in the <i>Telegraph</i>: "Resting him now might look like a harsh decision, as if you were shooting down a loyal servant. But in fact it would be a kindness to protect Cook from the strain that comes with representing England day-in, day-out.

"I want to see him play another six years of Test cricket. In the meantime, I would do something radical. English cricket has always looked to bed in new captains through the one-day team; that's how I started out, anyway. But I am sick of seeing us do things by the book."

<b>Sir Geoff Boycott</b>, also in the <i>Telegraph</i>, doubted the ECB would be so bold as to sack Cook though: "It might sound harsh to say it, but neither Alastair's feelings nor anyone else's should come into the equation; this is about what is best for English cricket.

"We cannot afford to do nothing; it is not acceptable. I fear that James Whitaker – the chairman of selectors – is going to just stick his head in the sand and carry on hoping for Cook to make runs and the cricket to change. It will not happen.

"Leadership is about making big decisions. And if our selectors cannot or will not make those decisions then Downton, as managing director, should sack them. Players and coaches are always telling us how much they like Alastair. What else can they say when he is their boss? But being a nice guy is not a prerequisite for the captaincy of England."

Another former skipper, <b>Nasser Hussain</b>, said in the <i>Daily Mail</i> that Cook had to take a had look at the effect his captaincy was having on the side: "Would we miss Cook the captain if he didn't turn up at The Ageas Bowl? No, I don't think so. But are we missing Cook the world-class batsman with all those Test hundreds? Yes, definitely.

"When I gave up the captaincy I literally woke up one morning and decided I'd had enough. I'd started to notice in the field that I'd lost the dressing room and I knew inside I was out of energy and it was affecting my decision-making. I knew my time was up. I didn't think me being captain would make England a better team and that is what Cook must decide. I've heard people say that there is no one else but that is not a good enough reason to keep the status quo. If you decide he is not the right man for the job then you can find someone else."

<b>Mike Walters</b> in the <i>Mirror</i> was scathing about England's batting, writing: "Had Kevin Pietersen, scapegoated after last winter's Ashes meltdown, played a self-indulgent shot like the negligent hook Matt Prior shovelled down deep midwicket's throat, he would have been crucified.

"But Captain Cock-up himself, Alastair Cook, says there is a place for Prior as long as he is 'desperate to carry on playing and wants to help turn things around'. Draw the curtain, nurse, and fetch matron. The patient is refusing to take his medicine.

"If Pietersen is not the answer to all of England's ills, the joyless incompetence of the last six weeks has proved, beyond all reasonable doubt, that he was not their biggest problem."

<b>Andy Bull</b> in <i>The Guardian</i> was unimpressed that the coaches allowed an injured Matt Prior to play, rather than call up Jos Buttler: "On Monday night Matt Prior gave way. The fleshy pads of his palms have been battered thin, and it stings each time he takes the ball. His quad was torn before the series started, and his Achilles are shot.

"He says his aim was to get to 'a manageable place', something he has singularly failed to do. It was a mistake to play him in the first place, one stemming from the loyalty of the coach and captain, and the reluctance of those same two men to embrace the most luminous young batting talent in English cricket, Jos Buttler."

<b>George Dobell</b> on <i>Cricinfo</i> felt Cook's support of Prior was baffling given KP's exit: "This is in stark contrast to the criticism of Kevin Pietersen following his dismissals in the Ashes. Whereas Pietersen was labelled selfish, Prior was informed by Alastair Cook that it was "up to him" if he wanted to continue playing.

"There is more than a sniff of hypocrisy about such inequitable treatment. But whereas "Matty" is one of the boys, Pietersen was an outsider. Merit hardly comes into the equation. The decision to dispense with Pietersen, England's highest runscorer in the Ashes, remember, remains weak and damaging."

<b>Teddy Cutler</b> in the <i>Independent</i> pondered the doomed nature of Peter Moores' second stint as coach: "To return to a sporting relationship after failure should be lauded: it requires bravery and no little passion for the job to confront the scene of one's former mistakes. But failure is a difficult stain to eradicate, particularly since it comes attached to its own complicated partner, memory.

"Key figures like Broad, Anderson and Prior experienced the worst days of the first Moores regime. Now that an even more severe rot of losses appears to have set in, it would take an increasingly naive optimist to expect an outcome happier than the first divorce.

"Sportsmen are not robots whose memories can be wiped clean upon command. They may be more robust mentally than the man with his hamper sitting in the Tavern Stand – but they are still prone to the same concerns and niggles provoked by the faults of the past."

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