Cook shuts out mounting pressure
4:55pm Saturday 26th July 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Kevin Pietersen is the latest of at least five former England captains to call for Alastair Cook's resignation - but it is advice the incumbent insists he can and must ignore.
Cook remains under mounting pressure after seven defeats in nine for his England Test team, and his miserable sequence of 27 innings without a century and just 127 runs this year.
After England went 1-0 down to India at Lord's five days ago, he and his employers were adamant he is still the right man to lead from the front as they try to overturn the deficit.
On the eve of the third Investec Test in Southampton, and after the publication of Pietersen's views in Saturday's Daily Telegraph, Cook's resolve is not wavering.
He has not considered resignation and is ready to be judged on England's results at the end of this five-match series.
Asked specifically about Pietersen's contention, he said: "The last three or four weeks, everyone's been saying that.
"It is no different who else says it.
"I've just got to stay true to myself and say how good it would be if I could get through this as a person, as a player, as a leader."
Cook admits he could do without the vociferous expert counsel, but it will make no difference to him.
"I would rather they did not say it, but I am quite a strong-willed guy who does not take too much notice of the media," he said.
"I have got to make sure I am concentrating on myself for the next five days, and not what people are thinking in the commentary box.
"With a five-Test series, you've got a chance to bounce back - and you get judged at the end of the series."
Cook is highly frustrated with his own form but also England's inability to turn advantageous mid-match positions this summer into anything other than defeats and draws.
He is confident he retains the full support of his team-mates.
"Every guy I've spoken to has (backed me)," he said. "So unless they're lying to my face, then yes.
"But the longer it goes without a win it becomes harder and harder.
"It's just incredibly frustrating - because first and foremost, you're there as a batter.
"You're there to score runs at the top of the order, and I've done that throughout my career.
"The last year or so, I haven't managed to do that. That's a concern for me, because that's my bread and butter."
A batting captain, at any level, needs runs to retain authority.
Cook added: "There is nothing worse than walking back in and feeling you have let the other 10 guys down.
"Nothing will give me more satisfaction than if I do pull through and score runs - because I know how much blood, sweat and tears have gone into it."
He has other specific man-management concerns, centring on his bowling attack.
Repercussions of the Level 3 charge hanging over James Anderson for allegedly "abusing and pushing" Ravindra Jadeja during the first Test will be known on Friday.
The impact of five near back-to-back Tests on all his bowlers, but especially perhaps Stuart Broad and his chronic knee trouble, is another worry.
Defeat here, however, could yet cost Cook the captaincy - and would mean for sure England cannot win the series - so he does not have the luxury to sanction resting anyone.
"We're not in position to exactly rotate, because we're not winning games of cricket," he admitted.
As for Anderson, he added: "I've got to make sure he's okay.
"Obviously it can be a distraction, and obviously is a distraction with that looming over him.
"But he's a very senior, experienced guy who has been through a lot.
"Chatting to him, he was obviously hurting after Lord's.
"At Headingley [where Anderson was in tears after a last-ditch defeat against Sri Lanka], you can see how much it means to him to play for England."
Cook has to get his own house in order too, though.
He recalls the no-frills solution which worked back in 2010, when an overdue century against Pakistan at The Oval kept him in the team.
"There was something ... it was just an attitude of 's** it' and just go and hit the ball.
"I thought 'I am just going to try and hit every ball'.
"When it is your day it is your day, but I certainly went into that game with an attitude of 'I am going to get dropped anyway, I might as well just go out and play my way'."
That does not mean he will try the same this time.
"It seemed to work then," he said. "(But) when I was batting in the nets I felt horrible, (and) I don't feel that now.
"I was in a lot worse place with my batting then, because I didn't know that I was seeing the end of the tunnel in terms of my form.
"I was really, really struggling."