Cook blames naivety as England collapse

Bangladesh's captain Mushfiqur Rahim, right, celebrates the dismissal of England's Jonny Bairstow, left.
Bangladesh's captain Mushfiqur Rahim, right, celebrates the dismissal of England's Jonny Bairstow, left.
0
Have your say

Alastair Cook admitted England’s inexperience in subcontinent conditions proved their undoing after Bangladesh squared the Test series at 1-1 following an historic 108-run victory inside three days.

Mehedi Hasan took 6-77 to finish with a 12-wicket haul in the second and final Test as England collapsed from 100 without loss before tea to 164 all out, losing all 10 wickets in an unforgettable final session.

Cook shared a century opening stand with Ben Duckett, with both men making fifties, but the floodgates opened once 19-year-old Mehedi made the breakthrough, with only Ben Stokes reaching double figures from the rest of the England line-up.

While Bangladesh celebrated their first Test win over opponents other than the West Indies or Zimbabwe and only their third success in the format on home soil and eighth overall in 95 matches, England face an almighty next assignment in India.

Their batting on turning wickets has been found wanting although, from their XI in Dhaka, only Cook and last man Steven Finn had played more than one Test on the subcontinent before this tour.

Cook therefore believes their naivety in such situations proved crucial as he said: “It is amazing how things can turn.

“We possibly showed our inexperience in those conditions. Even though I was out there experiencing it, it was amazing the difference before tea and after tea.

“You lose a couple of wickets, then men come round the bat, the crowd get into it. You know it doesn’t last forever, but that half an hour, 40 minutes, is crucial and we just weren’t good enough to be able to get through.

“This is when we need to really stay strong as a group. 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.

“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.”

England were set a victory target of 273, a total which, had they chased it down, would have been their highest successful fourth-innings score in Asia after Bangladesh were all out for 296.

The tourists dropped four chances of varying degrees of difficulty in the field and Cook, among those to spill a catch, acknowledged their bad start to the third morning put more unnecessary pressure on their batsmen.

He said: “I thought 270 would have been a really good chase to be honest with you.

“They got 30 too many. We had four or five, not easy chances, but chances you need to take. I started the rot with one at leg slip. You need to take them, especially in low-scoring games.”

While England’s batsmen come under scrutiny after imploding, their spinners were outperformed by their Bangladesh counterparts, most notably Mehedi, who took 19 wickets at an average of 15.63 in the two Tests.

Cook said: “I think they did outbowl our spinners. But, you know, that’s credit to those guys. We’re not hiding behind the fact that we haven’t got world-class spinners. We’ve got guys who can bowl some really good balls and spells.”

England now turn their attentions to a five-Test series against world No 1s India, who have won all but one of their matches in the longest format on home soil since England claimed a famous 2-1 series triumph four years ago.

When asked whether the challenge is daunting for Cook, he replied: “No. I try my best with this group of players who give everything to the cause.

“You only have to watch training to see the effort that goes in. In these three days we just haven’t been good enough to win a game of cricket. Sometimes you have to remember it’s just a game of cricket.

Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim revelled in his side’s finest hour in Test cricket although he believes it is only the beginning for his team.

He said: “It is a very big achievement in Bangladesh’s Test cricket history.

“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.”