ALASTAIR COOK last night insisted he has no intention of quitting as England captain.
Cook vowed to fight on despite Sri Lanka completing a clean sweep of the Tests, one-day internationals and T20 match.
Sri Lanka won their first Test series in England with a dramatic 100-run victory at Headingley, capturing the final wicket with the penultimate ball of the match.
The result increased the pressure on Cook, who said he had no intention of stepping down.
“I’ve never quit on anything I’ve done,” he said.
“I am hugely proud of the fact I am England captain and believe that I’m the right man for the job.
“If someone decides I’m not the right person and the results don’t justify it, fine. Until that moment, I’m desperate to help turn English cricket around.”
Cook’s task is not helped by his woeful batting form. He has not scored a Test century since May last year, when he hit 130 against New Zealand at Headingley.
“I know I’ve got to score more runs,” he said. “No one has got a divine right to play in the side, or to captain the side.
“I know I’ve got to work hard on my game, and I’ve got 10 days or so of preparation before the start of the India Test series.
“But first I need to spend a bit of time with my family and to have a bit of time away from cricket.”
There was speculation following a dire fourth day for England in Leeds that Cook might walk away as leader.
That was always unlikely, particularly with the England and Wales Cricket Board having gone to such lengths to back him after the Ashes debacle.
But Geoffrey Boycott, the former Yorkshire and England batsman, was stating fact when he said that England’s performance on day four was “a recipe for resignation”.
However, Cook was adamant that was never the case.
“I don’t believe that’s true,” he said. “Geoffrey also said something about me marrying his daughter, which was a nice thing to say coming from Geoffrey.
“But, as I say, I’ve never quit on anything I’ve done. It’s a huge honour to captain England.”
Cook said his challenge was always going to be difficult while England go through a transitional phase.
The Ashes fall-out has seen a new coaching staff and the departure of several senior players.
“The results over the last six months haven’t been good,” he said.
“But I said when we took over with Mooresy (head coach Peter Moores) that there will be downs before the ups.
“That’s because we’ve got a lot of young players.
“It’s a challenge, but I do believe we can turn things round.”
Cook, who admitted he might have changed some of his tactics here with the benefit of hindsight, claimed England had the best of the two-Test series.
In the first Test at Lord’s, Sri Lanka held on with nine wickets down after England largely bossed the contest.
“If you look at the whole series, I think we’ve probably had the better of eight of the 10 days,” he said.
“It doesn’t change the fact that we’ve lost the series, but I think it would be wrong to look at it as a negative.
“The bottom line is we haven’t been able to nail Sri Lanka down - that’s what’s cost us.
“Here, we were 300-3 with a lead of 60 and got bowled out for 350, but we needed 450-500 on that wicket.”
While Cook licked his wounds after a sobering defeat, Angelo Mathews, his Sri Lanka counterpart, celebrated a famous triumph.
To top of it off, Mathews was named man-of-the-match after recording a career-best 160 with the bat and 4-44 with the ball.
“This win means everything to be honest,” he said. “We kept trying and never lost our belief.
“England played some really good cricket and pushed us all the way. Our bowlers are quite inexperienced, but they tried to hit their lines and lengths and were brilliant.”
Moeen Ali, whose first Test hundred so nearly guided England to safety, said he would have swapped the milestone had England held on.
“I’d much rather get a 99 and save the game,” he said. “A hundred to save the game would have been fantastic, but it wasn’t to be.
“I just wanted to bat for as long as I could. Unfortunately, we weren’t quite able to make it as a team.”
Yorkshire chairman Colin Graves is to become chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board’s commercial committee.
Graves, deputy chairman of the ECB, is the founder of the Costcutter supermarket chain.