Cook sticks with status quo

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Post-match reaction from Centurion on ECBtv

Alastair Cook has explained England’s decision not to change their batting order in pursuit of a mammoth 242 to win at Centurion was a consequence of their excellent performance in Johannesburg.

The tourists suffered an 84-run defeat yesterday as South Africa ensured a share of the series following Friday’s one-run Duckworth-Lewis defeat at the Wanderers.

England amassed 202 for six in the first game, yet the Proteas eclipsed that by registering the second highest total in Twenty20 internationals thanks largely to Loots Bosman and Graeme Smith, who made 94 and 88 respectively and whose opening stand, worth 170, was the highest for any wicket in this form of the game.

Cook, leading England for the first time in place of Paul Collingwood - sidelined by a stiff back - admitted they considered promoting the likes of Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen and Eoin Morgan, but opted to retain the status quo.

“There were thoughts of it, but we decided not to go with that,” he said. “We got 200 the other day playing with that order, so we decided to stick with it.

Alastair Cook

Stand-in skipper Alastair Cook opted not to tinker with the batting order as England chased a mammouth 242 at Centurion

“Unfortunately the big hits, we didn’t hit them as cleanly as they did. In hindsight, we could have maybe changed it, but whether it would have changed the result I don’t know, because 240 is a lot of runs.”

South Africa coach Mickey Arthur was perplexed by England’s decision and gave the tourists food for thought ahead of the one-day series, which begins on Friday.

“I must say I was very surprised they didn’t (change the order),” he said. “I thought they would certainly have used Eoin Morgan and Jonathan Trott at the top of the order with KP batting three.

“We talk about us perhaps being a little but unpredictable; I thought England were very predictable today.”

Cook admitted he had been “conservative” to afford Adil Rashid a solitary over, turning to part-time slow bowlers Pietersen and Joe Denly after the specialist leg-spinner went for 25.

Rashid, playing instead of Graeme Swann, who had a side problem, bore the brunt as Bosman and Smith laid into the 21-year-old to the tune of four sixes.

“I did (think of bringing Rashid back) a couple of times,” Cook added. “My instinct was there to bowl him, but I did change my mind.

“I bowled Joe Denly and Kevin, which probably might have been the conservative option for me. But obviously Joe got the wicket with his first ball.”

To rub salt into the wounds, Cook was fined 20% of his match fee for England’s slow over-rate, with his team-mates fined 10%.

An ICC statement read: “Alastair Cook’s side was ruled to be one over short of its target at the end of the match when time allowances were taken into consideration.”

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