Cook predicts England recovery
Alastair Cook is confident that England can bounce back from their heavy defeat to South Africa when the second Investec Test begins on Thursday at Headingley Carnegie.
Andrew Strauss' team were put the sword by an Hashim Amla-inspired side, who claimed a famous innings-and-12-run victory in the first Test last week at the Kia Oval.
Amla, Jaques Kallis and Graeme Smith all made three figures as the tourists posted a record 637 for two; and it was left to Dale Steyn, who picked up his 18th Test five-wicket haul, to finish England off on the final day.
Opener Cook, who hit a century of his own on the opening day, insists the team will produce an improved performance to level the three-match series as they continue their quest to remain as the world's number one Test side.
"We will fight back," Cook told ecb.co.uk. "We have had heavy defeats in the past and have bounced back well and now we have to do that again.
"What is exciting is that we have a chance to level the series, which we need to do. We know that we didn't play to our potential and we know that we can play a lot better than we did and we have to find that performance.
"Clearly it [our confidence] has taken a dent. We can't hide behind that, but if you look round the dressing room we have got a very experienced side. Everyone knows what we have to do and we will be confident amongst ourselves that we can put in a much better performance."
It was certainly a difficult couple of days for the England bowlers, who endured 190 overs of pain in the sun as South Africa broke a record for the highest Test score for the loss of two wickets. But Cook is adamant that the they can come back and prove people wrong.
"I don't think that they have to do too much differently," Cook added. "Lets remember these guys have taken 20 wickets pretty much every time they have played a Test match over the last few years and one bad performance doesn't change that.
"It was a tough for the lads and physically they have to recover well. It takes a lot out of the guys when you bowl 40 or 50 overs and I'm sure they will put their feet up now as they will want to prove people wrong and that is a great place to be."
Cook, who top-scored for the hosts with 115, was disappointed that he did not go on to get a big score and believes the side missed a golden opportunity to build pressure and take control of the game.
"The first hour on the second day when we lost three wickets was crucial," he explained. "It is always nice to score runs, especially at the start of the series, but it is really frustrating that I didn't go on. When you score a hundred you want to go on and score a daddy hundred, but I didn't do that.
"We had a chance to get 500, which we had done a lot in the past. That would have put us in a lot stronger position and would given us a chance to put South Africa under a lot of pressure, but we didn't take it.
"Credit to the way South Africa bowled. They didn't make it easy for us, but we could have fought through it better than we did. But clearly taking two wickets in 190 overs wasn't exactly ideal either. Again a lot of credit to Hasim. Anyone who gets 300 is an incredible achievement.
"Despite all that, we had to bat four sessions to draw a game and on that wicket we should have got closer than we did. Those 40 overs at the end of day four were we lost four wickets made it very hard."