England’s Test cricketers are playing for their very futures, according to Alastair Cook.
Speaking ahead of the second Test at Headingley, Cook said: “If you want to play cricket for England, you’ve got to deliver, otherwise we’ll be looking for other employment. That’s the nature of the beast and, fundamentally, we’re not producing out in the middle.”
The match will be Cook’s 154th consecutive Test, an achievement which sees him break a record set by Allan Border.
“We need to play better,” Cook, who made 70 the first innings at Lord’s, said in his column for Sky Sports. “Test futures are on the line.
“It’s never great when you lose a game of cricket, even more so playing the way we did at Lord’s. It’s a frustrating time for us at the moment as a side; we’re not playing well.
“When you’re not playing very well and are not winning games of cricket, it’s very different from being in a confident side that’s playing good cricket. We dropped some chances at Lord’s, myself included, and that’s another sign of a side that is lower on confidence.
But we have to stick together as a group. The last thing you can do is play the blame game, and the trick is now to not carry the negatives from the first Test with us to Headingley.
Cook also discussed the re-selection of Keaton Jennings in place of Mark Stoneman, who has been dropped after a disappointing start to the season.
“He [Jennings] is a very level-headed guy and seems very suited to Test level, in terms of his mental approach. He got a hundred on debut, which shows he can play, but then against a good South African side last summer things just didn’t quite go his way.
“It’s tough on Mark Stoneman. It’s horrible. Playing for England is these guys’ dreams, so it’s not nice seeing people dropped. I spoke to him on Monday; he was obviously disappointed, as you’d expect, but he has to now go away, score runs and look at areas in which he can improve his game.
“It gives Keaton a great opportunity, and we just need people to grab these opportunities with both hands and to start pushing this side forward, like Jos Buttler and Dom Bess – on debut – did at Lord’s.”