Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 21st 2015 Contents A56
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LONDON---Alastair Cook denied yesterday
he gave an ultimatum to England man-
agement to relieve him of the captaincy if
Kevin Pietersen was recalled, but agreed
with Pietersen s extended exile from the
Cook s comments at Lord s, on the eve
of the first test against New Zealand, were
his first in public on the recent turmoil in
English cricket. Former captain Andrew
Strauss was appointed director of cricket
and immediately sacked coach Peter Moores,
and told Pietersen, discarded since the 2013-
14 Ashes series, that he would not be con-
sidered until after the summer campaign.
"I do agree with the decision," Cook said
of barring Pietersen. He declined to say
why, with some despair.
"This has been going on for 15 or so
months. We ve got to start really looking
forward, we have to really, really focus on
what s important to us (as players). For me,
it s about leading the team out tomorrow
at Lord s. All that external stuff over the
last 10 or so days isn t important."
Pressed about whether he could play with
Pietersen, Cook said it was irrelevant.
"That s not a decision I ve got to make,
or have to make," he said. "That s not a
decision I have to worry about."
But the prospect of the two of them in
the same dressing room beyond the summer
has been widely speculated in English news-
papers. Most believe Cook, not willing to
forgive Pietersen for criticisms in his auto-
biography, barred the batsman s recall by
threatening to resign as captain.
The English and Wales Cricket Board, so
the media say, went with the least worst
PR problem. But Cook holds sway only as
long as he s captain, and if results don t
come against New Zealand, then especially
Australia, he will likely be replaced by new
vice-captain Joe Root.
"There was no ultimatum," Cook said.
"I can deny that, I don t quite know where
that came from."
He said he and the players weren t con-
sulted by Strauss and new chief executive
Tom Harrison regarding the moves against
Moores and Pietersen.
"I want it to be that way," said Cook, in
defining the trust between the team and
management to do their jobs without inter-
fering with the other.
Cook appreciated Strauss spelling out his
reasons and vision to the team on Tuesday,
and said he was sorry for Moores, who was
a players coach and helped him improve.
Cook noted that, as captain, he s working
with a fourth national coach, caretaker Paul
Fabrace, the former assistant.
Strauss was searching for Moore s replace-
ment, and Fabrace, who coached Sri Lanka
to victories in the World Twenty20 and
Asia Cup last year, confirmed he was willing
to become head coach, or continue as assis-
Cook confirmed he will open the batting
with Adam Lyth, who will make his debut
as the replacement for the retired Jonathan
Trott, but wouldn t reveal the fate of the
squad s other uncapped player, fast bowler
As for New Zealand, captain Brendon
McCullum said the late arrival of himself,
Kane Williamson, and new-ball bowlers
Tim Southee and Trent Boult from IPL duty,
would not be offered as an excuse if they
don t hit the ground running.
"Last year, a few of us went from the IPL
to the West Indies and we scored 500 in
the first innings, so it can be a positive,"
LONDON---When England and New
Zealand last met in Test cricket, it
was almost unfair.
That England was battle-hardened,
strong and savvy, but on the down
side of a glorious era. New Zealand
was on the rise, far from polished,
feisty but outgunned. England won
those two Tests by KOs.
They meet for two more, starting
today at Lord s, and just two years later
the circumstances have switched.
England is in transition, improving,
but at a rate that s barely tolerated, and
overshadowed by a feeding frenzy out-
side the dressing room.
New Zealand has become a team to
be feared, and admired for its attitude,
professionalism, and success. Since
that whitewash at the hands of Eng-
land, the Kiwis have been unbeaten,
winning four of six Test series.
The bookies have made England
slight favourite, but that s more to do
with home advantage, which is mar-
ginal, and history, which is consider-
England also has been in Test mode
for far longer than New Zealand, but
that recent series in the West Indies
showed how the home side has become
more dependent than ever on fast
bowler James Anderson.
Anderson became England s No 1
Test wicket-taker in Antigua, he was
the match-winner in Grenada, and
produced his best overseas figures in
Barbados. England better hope he does-
n t break down.
Second seamer Stuart Broad didn t
meet his previous standards, and all-
rounders Chris Jordan and Ben Stokes
The batting lineup remains fragile,
and likely to include uncapped opener
Adam Lyth, who was taken to the
Caribbean but unused. He s scored a
pile for county champion Yorkshire,
and should become England s 666th
The number is associated with the
anti-Christ, but Lyth said he would
take it: "I m not bothered."
He will open with captain Alastair
Cook, who rediscovered in the
Caribbean his confidence outside off
stump, and his touch with a century
and two fifties. He needs only 210 more
runs to eclipse mentor Graham Gooch
as England s highest Test run-scorer.
Joe Root also came home with his
credentials enhanced, and was con-
firmed as the heir apparent as captain
by being given the vice-captaincy.
His outstanding form in the past
year (average of almost 95) was reward-
ed this week with the England best
player award, which Root used to credit
the man who he said got the best out
of him, Peter Moores.
Moores was sacked this month as
England coach by new director of crick-
et Andrew Strauss, who then barred
the return of wild-card batsman Kevin
Pietersen on the day he scored a maid-
en first-class triple century.
The way Strauss handled both was
widely panned, but Strauss did the
team a favour by fronting up on Tues-
day and explaining to the team the
reasons for his decisions, and his plans.
England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler
said the players respected Strauss for
giving them clarity. New Zealand s own
issues were clearing up, namely the
opening pair, and third seamer.
Martin Guptill, unwanted since the
last tour to England, appears to have
headed off Hamish Rutherford to open
with Tom Latham, thanks to form at
the Cricket World Cup, for English
county Derbyshire, and in the last
warmup at Worcester, where he scored
Cook agrees to bar Pietersen
NZ senses rare chance
against vulnerable England
England's cricket captain Alastair Cook, left, talks to
the acting head coach Paul Farbrace during a nets
session at Lord's cricket ground in London, Tuesday.
England and New Zealand will play a two Test series
starting with the first Test at Lord's today. AP PHOTO
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