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England at rock-bottom, says Cook
1:48pm Sunday 5th January 2014 in Sport
An angry and frustrated Alastair Cook has vowed to lead England back from ''rock bottom'' after they suffered an Ashes whitewash in Sydney.
Cook's tourists folded in a familiar hurry in the latest of a series of collapses and were bowled out for 166 - Hampshire's Michael Carberry top scoring with 43, losing the final Test by 281 runs inside three days at the SCG.
Four wickets fell for eight runs straight after tea, an alarming passage of play which was merely in keeping with much that preceded it in four previous heavy defeats.
As he came to terms with the 5-0 scoreline in a series England began two-and-a-half months ago with high hopes of a fourth successive Ashes victory, Cook restated his intention to remain in office and his wish that coach Andy Flower does too.
He knows, of course, there will be a clamour for change in many quarters - but having read reports before start of play here that his employers believe his job is safe, he confirmed his appetite to continue.
Cook has been in charge little more than a year, and up until this winter had not known defeat in a tenure which started with an historic series victory in India.
As Australia paraded a replica urn in front of their noisy and adoring supporters, Sydney was a world away from England's 3-0 win at home to their Ashes rivals just last summer.
''There is anger in me and frustration, because for whatever reason we haven't played very well - and the buck stops with me,'' said Cook, who was also involved - under the short-lived captaincy of Andrew Flintoff - when England were whitewashed here two tours ago.
''When you hit rock bottom, the only way is up.
''It happened in 2006-07, and things turned round with a lot of hard work and a lot of dedication to the cause.''
England's descent from a teatime 87 for three, in purely notional pursuit of a world-record target of 448, was swift.
''I think today was the culmination of being under the cosh for four-and-a-half games,'' added Cook, chastened but still cautiously optimistic for the future.
''I was given the vote of confidence from the board - which normally means in football terms you have two weeks, and then you're on your bike.''
He wants Flower to stay on too.
''I hope Andy is with us, I really do,'' he said.
''His record suggests he is a fantastic coach. He is a great man, and his heart is in it to turn it round.
''I hope it is me and him that do it.''
Flower is understood to retain the backing of a new England and Wales Cricket Board management team, following the appointments of Paul Downton as managing director and James Whitaker as national selector.
After his team's latest defeat, the coach told Sky Sports: ''This does feel like the end of an era, of some description.
''It is a chance for some sort of renewal for the England national cricket team.
''We certainly weren't good enough, so there should be change of some description.
''It needs wise people making good decisions at the top to try and get those decisions as right as possible.
''It would be remiss of me to stand here and start making crazy predictions or to decide anything without consulting those who need to be consulted.''
Cook knows they are both in a 'results' business.
''If I feel my position in the side is not justified for the amount of runs I score, and I don't feel I'm the right man for the job, then I'll resign.
''I'm very proud to be England captain ... and I'm desperate to help England turn it round.
''I feel I'm the right man for the job.
''If I'm not, and people higher up want a change because they think that's the best way, then I'll have to take it on the chin - because results suggest it.''
With 102 Tests and an English record 25 centuries on his CV, Cook believes he can present a sound case to stay on.
''I have a lot of experience as a player,'' he added.
''I've seen a 5-0 before - and I've seen the drive and determination that caused in the England team in a certain number of players.
''When you strip everything down, every single player needs to go away and have a look at themselves, have a look at their techniques, have a look at the way they bowl, and you start rebuilding again - and that real hunger and desire has to come from within to do it.
''I hope I can lead that and push the people in the right direction.''
To do so, he will have to balance some inevitable changes with his inclination for continuity.
''What it does mean, when you lose 5-0, is that a lot of places are up for grabs again,'' he said.
''That should be a real inspiration for people outside the team, but also for people inside the team. The work ethic is there, and we've got to go back to basics.
''Probably only Broady (Stuart Broad) and Stokesy (Ben Stokes) have delivered close to their potentials (in this series).
''Everyone else will be hurting.''
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