England started off the winter really well as they whitewashed Sri Lanka 2-0 before coming the first side to beat India in a Test match in India in 5 years.
However, it all went downhill from there as England capitulated in the last three Tests to lose 1-3.
Things got even worse at the start of the summer as England once again rested some of its multiformat players like Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes, Sam Curran during the two-match series against New Zealand.
As a result, England barely survived the first Test at Lord’s thanks to rain but succumbing to an 8-wicket-defeat at Edgbaston to lose their first Test series on home soil since 2014.
Alastair Cook expressed his disappointment at the fact that England continued to rest players for the Test matches while at the same time, unleashing a full-strength squad for white-ball cricket He also expressed his sympathy for Test skipper Joe Root for nor being able to get a full strength squad at his disposal.
“Clearly it was disappointing. England have got themselves in a tough situation for the winter. It was going so well, winning in Sri Lanka and then they’re 1-0 up against India,” Alastair Cook told ESPNCricinfo. “To then rest and rotate players, ever since that moment they’ve ended up chasing their tail – ending up with a fifth-choice wicketkeeper (James Bracey), an unbalanced side even though people were playing the (T20) Blast,” said Cook.
“You’ve got a Test captain who hasn’t been able to play his best side, yet we seem to be playing a full-strength side in the T20s against Sri Lanka. The decisions don’t look like they’ve been made correctly. Of course, they’re trying their best to make the right decisions for the right reasons, but when you’re playing for England, you get judged on end results most of the time, so you’d have to say it hasn’t worked,” he added.
“I genuinely feel sorry for Joe Root because he hasn’t had his best players available. You can’t buy that experience of guys like Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali. Those kind of players make a big difference. When you look at it in isolation, it doesn’t make that much sense what happened, but how they got there you can kind of half understand. It’s been a tough one, and they just got found out against a better team in that New Zealand series,” said Cook.
Alastair Cook on India-England Test series
England’s next challenge will be a five-match Test series against India in August.
But, with England set to field a full-strength squad for the India series, Alastair Cook feels that while Virat Kohli’s side is outstanding, it will be a herculean task for the visitors to beat England in a grueling 5-match rubber.
“It will be a better side with the players coming back against India. They’ll clearly be better balanced which, I think, is a massive issue for them and forced some strange selections against New Zealand, like no spinner on a dry wicket. India have shown how good they are at the moment because they’re in the World Test Championship final but, over five Test matches in England, England are hard to beat at home, and I’m expecting a very tight battle,” said Cook.
With India being in the country for close to 2 months before the Test series, Cook believes that they might start off brilliantly but mental fatigue could catch up with them at the end of the summer.
“India would have been here for a long time as well so could get mentally fatigued by the end of the tour. India will start pretty well but, consistently over five games, to beat England at home is a monumental effort. So I think if England hang in with India early on, there’s no reason why they can’t win,” he added.