Ashes 2017-18: Kevin Pietersen questions Alastair Cook motivation
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Former English cricketer Kevin Pietersen today brought into question the form and motivation of former England skipper Alastair Cook, addressing not only his performance in the first Test of the Ashes this year, but also his body language.
‘The manner in which he got out in the first innings is a huge cause for concern. It’s a technique he fights with on a daily basis," Pietersen said, addressing issues with both teams following the conclusion of the first Test today.
Australia currently lead the Ashes 1-0.
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Following a lacklustre performance from the English openers - and the bowling attack failing to back them up, England put on a first innings score of 302, and were bundled out for 195 runs in the second, with Cook himself bundled out for single digits in the total of his score in two innings, managing a sum total of nine runs
Cook led England to Ashes victory in 2015, but has of late fought to find form and has appeared not to have his mind in the game. The most experienced part of the current English Test squad, Cook was expected to be the pillar of their batting unit and his failure to fire was no doubt one of the causes of England's loss in the first Test.
Despite his past successes, Cook has struggled with form for some time, scoring only three centuries in the past 54 Test innings he played.
‘The first concern would be Alastair Cook and his form, that is certainly a cause of concern. The dismissals of Cook would cause flutters in that dressing room,’ he told BT Sport. ‘The manner in which he got out in the first innings is a huge cause for concern. It’s a technique he fights with on a daily basis. ‘Then Alastair’s strong shot has been the pull, he’s a magnificent player of the pull shot and scored so many runs with it.
But it was not just Cook's form with the bat that Pietersen took issue with, and the former English batsman said Cook's body language indicated a defeatist attitude and a lack of motiation.
"To get out that way [in the second innings]…for me it’s the bigger picture. The way he walks off the field, the way he walks to training, I don’t see a bounce in his step. I just don’t see it."
Cook, Pietersen suggested, seemed nonchalant about his dismissals. "‘When he walked off the field after his dismissal he was very relaxed about it, it wasn’t an assertive, caring, “why did I get out” scenario. That’s probably the biggest concern, it’s that care, he’s played almost 150 Test matches and it’s quite difficult to get up every single day for Test cricket," Pietersen said.
Despite this, and some other flaws in the English batting order, Pietersen praised England's performance overall, calling them 'spirited'. He singled out opener Mark Stoneman, who made his Ashes debut this year, partnering Alastair Cook.
Stoneman put up a spirited half-century in the first innings after the early exit of Alastair Cook, and again attempted to hold on in the second innings, although he managed only 27 runs - which was also one of the higher scores of the match.
James Vince, also a relative rookie, put 83 runs on the board in the first innings, and crucially set up an innings-consolidating partnership with Stoneman early on to steady the English side.
Despite a couple of spirited attempts from English batsmen, Australia eventually took a 10-wicket win in the first Test.
Teams now head on from the Gabba in Brisbane to Adelaide for the second Test, which will be played on Saturday, the 2nd of December.
While Australia came into the Ashes this year firmly dominant - and England missing a few vital pieces of their attack - key among them all-rounder Ben Stokes, fans might not have expected England to see the virtual drubbing they received in the first Test.
Steve Smith, who made his debut as the skipper of an Ashes side this year, looks to have his tactics firmly in control in addition to excelling with the bat. With the advantage of a home crowd, Australia can well expect to dominate the next Test - and likely the entire series.