England have learned lessons - Cook

Sri Lanka England

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Alastair Cook is confident England have improved as a team over the course of a demanding winter programme.

The prolific opener contributed scores of 94 and 49 not out as Andrew Strauss’ Test side claimed victory by eight wickets in the second Test against Sri Lanka at Colombo.

That impressive win represented a welcome boost after four straight defeats - the first three at the hands of Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates - had put England’s position at the summit of the International Cricket Council Test rankings under threat.

Cook openly acknowledges the frustration induced by England’s below-par performances earlier in the year, but believes plenty of positives can be taken from the way they have responded.

“It has been a really tough winter,” the left-hander told ecb.co.uk. “You never want to lose Test matches and to lose four in a row was very disappointing, especially as we set out this winter to really crack sub-continental conditions, or try and improve.

“I think we have certainly improved in them; throughout the winter our bowlers have been outstanding and quite clearly the batters haven’t quite scored the runs we would like.

“In this Test match, normal service (was resumed). We batted for a long period of time and gave our bowlers a chance to rest up. First-innings scores of 460 are what you need on these wickets if you want to win the game.”

“It’s a good way to end a tour, to win, and certainly a little bit of reward for the hard work, which we have been putting in.

“It doesn’t matter whether you win or lose, you still work just as hard, so it was nice to see our efforts getting rewarded.

“We’ve learned as a side again. We’ve certainly taken a few steps back but sometimes you might have to do that in your career.”

Cook was also pleased to be back in the runs himself, having registered scores of nought and 14 in England’s first-Test defeat at Galle.

“All winter I’ve hit the ball really well. In the warm-up games I’ve scored runs, in the one-day games I’ve scored runs and I just haven’t really transferred it into Test match runs,” he added.

“To miss out twice in Galle was disappointing, so it was nice over these five days to put in a contribution. I’d have liked to swap six of my second-innings runs for my first-innings, but it was a really good team effort.”

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