Complacency not an issue for Cook

Alastair Cook does not expect complacency to creep into England’s game despite heading into the fourth and final Test against South Africa at Centurion with the series already secured.

The tourists’ convincing victory in Johannesburg gave them a 2-0 unassailable series lead, made possible by Stuart Broad’s devastating spell, meaning tomorrow’s match is effectively a dead rubber.

But Cook believes there is still a lot at stake for his team, who do not want to repeat their performance from the final Test of last summer at the Kia Oval when they lost to Australia after already regaining the Ashes at Trent Bridge.

“Absolutely there’s a lot to play for as a team and just as much personally for players who haven’t scored quite the amount of runs or taken the wickets they’d have liked, there’s huge amount to play for,” Cook said.

“There’s no doubt our attitude will be fine. Win, lose or draw it won’t be down to our attitude.

“Guys who played in this side will be desperate to shore up their spot. When the selection meeting happens for the Sri Lanka series they want to have earned that right to be there. That’s what guys will be pushing for.

Alastair Cook's England head into the fourth and final Test at Centurion with a 2-0 unassailable lead

“I don’t think it’s ever a problem when really hungry players personally want to do well; if it over-rides the interests of the team that is a worry but in this circumstance I don’t think it will.

“I’m really looking forward to this week to see how people respond. Last time we were up in a series with the series won we didn’t play our greatest game so we’ve got an opportunity to see how far we’ve come.”

One area Cook believes England need to work on is their batting, which has been dominated by Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root during the three Tests so far.

Stokes is the top run-scorer in the series with 368, hitting 258 of them in one record-breaking innings at Cape Town, while Bairstow and Root have struck a century in compiling 345 and 290 runs respectively.

Cook wants the rest of the batsmen to stand up, saying: “A lot of runs have been scored by Joe, Ben and Jonny.

“They’ve scored the majority of the runs, which is great for those guys but others haven’t quite contributed, myself included.

“We’ve got the opportunity to do that and I’m really looking forward to this week to see how people respond.”

Cook could make history at Centurion this week with the opening batsman just 117 runs away from becoming only the 12th player in history to make 10,000 in Tests.

“At the start of the series I thought if I played well I could get there, it hasn’t quite happened for me on tour,” he said.

“It would be lovely to score a hundred and get the milestone, but we can rest assured I’ll be concentrating as much on trying to score a hundred and set up the game.

“Those little things along the way are important but I’m not setting out for this match to score 117 runs, I’m setting out to score as many as I can and to try and win.”

England are still weighing up which bowler will replace the injured Steven Finn in the XI tomorrow. 

Pacemen Chris Woakes, Chris Jordan and uncapped left-armer Mark Footitt are all vying to step in for Finn, who was ruled out of the rest of the tour with a side strain.

Woakes is favourite to play after stepping in for the injured Anderson in Durban, when he took one wicket in a tidy display, but Jordan and Footitt are also strong options.

“It is quite a big decision to make. All three are different options and all three desperate for it to be them who gets selected,” said Cook.

“When you’re weighing up a lot of options you can overcomplicate it, so I think it’s just a case of playing our best side.”

Source: ECB

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