Cook retains England captaincy

2014-07-22 17:30
Alastair Cook (AFP)

London - Alastair Cook has retained the England captaincy while the selectors brought in uncapped Lancashire wicketkeeper Jos Buttler to a 13-man squad announced on Tuesday for the third Test against India at Southampton on Sunday.

After England's 95-run defeat in the second Test at Lord's on Monday, struggling wicketkeeper Matt Prior announced he was taking a break from international cricket in order to regain full fitness, with the Sussex gloveman set to undergo surgery on an Achilles injury.

Cook insisted on Monday he had no intention of standing down as captain despite the heavy loss representing England's 10th successive Test without a win -- their worst run in more than 20 years.

The left-handed opener has also seen his own form decline, with Cook now having gone 27 innings since scoring the last of his England record 25 Test hundreds.

Several former England captains have all urged Cook to stand down as skipper in a bid to regain his batting form, with Ian Botham even going so far as to say in his Daily Mirror column on Tuesday that the 29-year-old "needs a break from the job and the game".

But England coach Peter Moores has no doubt Cook could lead England out of their present slump.

"The question is 'can he be the captain who can take the team forward in the long term?'," Moores said.

"Can he be that man? In my opinion, yes, and so I'm going to support him through that."

Buttler, although uncapped at Test level, has long been earmarked for a debut in the five-day game after impressing in the course of 63 limited overs appearances for England.

But following his stunning 121 in England's one-day loss to Sri Lanka at Lord's in June, the 23-year-old insisted he wasn't ready for Test cricket.

However, this season has seen Buttler score 568 runs at an average of 40.57, including one hundred and five fifties in eight Championship matches after leaving his native Somerset at the end of last term because he could not be guaranteed a place as wicketkeeper, with Craig Kieswetter also on the staff of the south-west county.

"It was a really tough decision to leave Somerset, who helped me a lot, but with my long-term goal being Test cricket, I knew I had to leave," Buttler told Lancashire's website.

"I guess it's justified it, and it's justified it pretty quickly."

India lead the five-match series 1-0 after the first Test at Nottingham's Trent Bridge ground was drawn.

England's defeat at Lord's -- their seventh in their past nine Tests ended in embarrassing fashion as several batsmen succumbed to an obvious hooking trap baited by India paceman Ishant Sharma, who finished with Test-best figures of seven for 74.

England national selector James Whitaker called for a much-improved team display this weekend.

"The result of the second Investec Test at Lord's was very disappointing," he said.

"It is vital the squad learns quickly and arrives in Southampton this week refreshed and ready to perform well in what will no doubt be another tough Test match."

England have largely given the same group of players, including below-par pacemen James Anderson and Stuart Broad, a chance to redeem themselves, with only Prior and specialist spinner Simon Kerrigan -- who didn't play at Lord's -- omitted from the 14-man squad selected for the second Test.

Whitaker added: "Matt Prior has contributed a huge amount to the England side over the years and should be proud of his record throughout his 79 Tests.

"He has decided to take time out of the game to work on his fitness, and we will continue to follow his progress over the coming months."

England squad:

Alastair Cook (Essex, capt), Sam Robson (Middlesex), Gary Ballance (Yorkshire), Ian Bell (Warwickshire), Joe Root (Yorkshire), Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), Ben Stokes (Durham), Jos Buttler (Lancashire wkt), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Liam Plunkett (Durham), James Anderson (Lancashire), Chris Jordan (Sussex), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire)

Read more on:    alastair cook  |  cricket

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