Cook and England on the rack

Alastair Cook and England are heading for defeat at Lord's

Alastair Cook and England are heading for defeat at Lord's

First published in National Sport News © by

Alastair Cook's future as England captain is unlikely to depend solely on whether his team can defy the odds on the final day of the second Investec Test against India.

There are plenty, of course, who will tell you otherwise - after he extended his run without a Test century to 27 innings, took his annual aggregate to just 129 in nine attempts and saw England stumble to 105 for four in pursuit of 319 to win at Lord's.

England assistant coach Paul Farbrace is, however, decidedly not among them - and took his opportunity on Sunday night to endorse Cook's continued suitability to lead the national team.

A counter-attacking, career-best 68 from Ravindra Jadeja, his stand of 99 with Bhuvneshwar Kumar (52) and - before then - Murali Vijay's 95 at the top of the order took India to 342 all out and left England needing their highest Lord's run chase to win their first Test in 10 under Cook's captaincy.

Farbrace said: "I've been impressed with the way he copes.

"I think he and Mooresy (coach Peter Moores) are starting to develop a really good relationship as well.

"He's a very unflappable character... and he's working very hard.

"His thoughts are very much on the team, and the team doing well."

Yet batting captains, at any level, need runs in order to retain authority - a basic fact acknowledged by Farbrace.

"Absolutely. He's aware of that - as much as anything from the team's point of view," he added.

"He wants to do well for the team, score runs for them.

"He doesn't need telling. He's well aware of what he needs to do, and his commitment to the team is fantastic."

Cook's pace attack perhaps did not help his or the collective cause when they allowed Jadeja to dictate the pace of the game either side of lunch on his way to a maiden Test 50 in just 42 balls.

Farbrace, however, believes England have the right team out on the field.

"They're not machines," he said.

"They are trying hard to get the ball in the right places, and sometimes it doesn't work."

England, in a transition period after last winter's embarrassing Ashes whitewash defeat, are striving for a balance between instant and long-term success.

Farbrace added of the senior players around Cook: "We can't praise them highly enough.

"They're helping young players that we're trying to develop, and we are trying to develop a squad and a team and trying to take it forward.

"Yes, we want to win games - but we're also trying to develop players at the same time as winning games of cricket.

"The great thing with all of our senior players is that their contribution in and around the dressing room, in and around practice, has been fantastic... massive."

Cook could urgently do with some similarly effective efforts out in the middle.

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