Ashes humiliation has ramped up the pressure on the leader of the vanquished team.
Under-fire Alastair Cook says he wants to carry on as England captain but if the selectors think there is a better man for the job then he would take it on the chin.
England are on the brink of a humiliating series whitewash after Australia cruised to an eight-wicket victory in the fourth Ashes Test in Melbourne on Sunday with a day to spare.
Somehow the demoralised tourists, who gave up the Ashes in 14 playing days, have to find a way to stop the Australian juggernaut in this week’s final Sydney Test from repeating the 5-0 rout of the 2006-07 series Down Under.
Cook’s position is under scrutiny given England’s woeful series, and he ratcheted up the pressure by dropping two crucial catches in the first half-hour of Sunday’s play which could have put the Australians under pressure.
It has been a dramatic turnaround from England’s last tour in Australia in 2010-11 when Cook amassed 766 runs at 127.66. Three years later he has scored 232 runs in eight innings at 29.00.
But Cook insists he wants to continue as captain, leaving the big call on his post-Ashes future to the England selectors.
“I’m totally responsible as captain for the team and if, at the end of the series, the selectors decide I’m not the best man for the job, then so be it,” Cook told reporters after England’s dispiriting loss.
“It would hurt and I’ve got no plans of going anywhere. I’m desperately trying to use as much of my experience of playing 100 Tests to help turn this team around.
“I know that it starts with a lot of hard work and it starts with a performance or two that we jump on the back of.
“I’m 100 percent wanting to carry on. If someone makes that decision, and says ‘We think there’s a better man’ or ‘You’re not good enough to do it’, then I have to take that on the chin because as a captain, you’re responsible for the team.”
Cook was in the England team that was crushed 5-0 by Australia seven years ago and may face a repeat performance at the Sydney Cricket Ground in the final Test starting Friday.
“It’s quite a long time ago now. I think this one obviously, because it’s in the present, hurts quite a lot, especially as I’m captain as well, it probably hurts even more,” he said.
“When we left England we had high hopes of doing something very special. I did say at the time we’d have to play some very good cricket if we wanted to achieve that and we haven’t done that.
“The bottom line is we haven’t been good enough. The part of this game that makes it even more frustrating is that we got ourselves into a good place to put some pressure on Australia: 100-odd ahead and no wickets down in the second innings.
“I suppose that might be where we are as a side. When you’re winning games of cricket you get yourself in a good situation like that and you really take advantage of it. But when the confidence isn’t there and you lose a couple of wickets, you don’t.”
Asked if England had players who were no longer good enough for Test cricket, Cook said: “I think that’s a very big shout. We’ve some very good players in our dressing room. We’ve some record-breaking players who will have some fantastic days left in an England shirt, I know that for sure.
“We need that coming out of us now, I think that’s what we need in Sydney now: we need an outstanding 100 or an outstanding 5-for and then everyone jumping on the back of that. That’s what turns around a team that is struggling like we are at the moment to put in a good performance.”