Alastair Cook calls England's defeat by India 'lowest moment as captain'

For England the wait goes on: a five-run defeat by an energetic – and energetically supported – India in a rain-ravaged Champions Trophy final deprived Alastair Cook of the chance to become the first England captain to lift an ICC 50-over trophy.

Instead the world champions were deserved victors at Edgbaston, competing fiercely to defend a total of 129 in front of a home-from-home crowd, the massed India flags creating a collage of tricolour around the Eric Hollies stand as India's spinners turned the screw on a sharply turning pitch.

If there was joy for India, Cook was understandably despondent after a defeat that he identified as his lowest moment in two years as England captain. "We had high hopes coming in today of achieving something special," he said. "It's a tough place to be at the moment but we will look at it when the emotion's out of it and we'll build again for 2015, the next global tournament."

"We've had a good tournament. We got to the final and there are six other teams who'd like to be in the situation we were in at the start of the day. We'd have liked to play a 50-over game but we wouldn't be saying that if we won this 20-over game. You have to adjust. I'm proud of the way the lads have fought. We've been under pressure, a lot of criticism and flack has been thrown our way but we've competed really well."

If home conditions had favoured England in their stately march towards the final, the many delays to the start of play at Edgbaston carved out a shortened game that favoured India's more dynamic skills. Then there was that Indian support, most of whom stayed in the ground for almost 12 hours to witness the moment of victory. As Cook said: "We didn't have too much support here but the crowd have been good all tournament. There were a lot of Indians there today but we expected that. It's not an excuse as to why we lost."

Indeed England could have no quibbles, beaten by the better team on the day, and the team of the tournament by a tangible margin. In the end it was a question simply of India holding their nerve: England appeared to be winning the game as Eoin Morgan tucked into Ishant Sharma in the 18th over of England's chase, at which point the home side lost four wickets for three runs in eight balls and, in the process, the match.

"Clearly from there you'd back yourself to win more times than lose in that situation," Cook said. "But new guys coming in on that wicket were always going to find it hard to get those runs. It's a tough pill to swallow at the moment."

If there was a moment of controversy it came in the stumping of Ian Bell, given out on review, to reduce England to 46 for four, and Cook was unusually severe in his criticism of Bruce Oxenford's decision. "I thought it was a poor decision. Maybe he saw a different angle than we saw. It looked pretty clear that it was in but he's paid to make the decisions. It's the umpire's game and that's that."

For Cook and England the challenge now will be to lift their spirits before the switch to the main business of the summer, beginning with the Ashes warm-up game against Essex. "It's going to take a couple of days," Cook said. "We've got a few days off now and the lads are going to have to use that. We've got to recharge our batteries now and prepare ourselves to make sure we hit the ground running at Trent Bridge [the first Ashes Test]."

Earlier in the day there had been a shadow of something close to farce, mainly in the many rapid-fire exits and entrances of players and officials as the rain clouds scudded across Edgbaston from the south, but also in the looming prospect of a washout, which seemed almost a certainty in early afternoon.

Some had suggested the final should have been scheduled for the day before in any event, with Sunday left as a designated spare day in case of terrible weather, but this is to be wise after the event. Under the circumstances the ICC deserves credit for at least being flexible on the cut-off point for the day's play, thereby allowing a 20-over match to be staged.

So do the ground staff and unpaid "Cricketeer" army who not only stewarded crowds and officials but chipped in rolling the covers off and on.

Powered by article was written by Barney Ronay at Edgbaston, for The Guardian on Sunday 23rd June 2013 23.16 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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