Cook has grounds for optimism

Alastair Cook, right, scored 51 of England's 182 total

Alastair Cook, right, scored 51 of England's 182 total

First published in National Sport News © by

Alastair Cook's season ended on a frustrating and disappointing low on Wednesday night - but the England captain will not dwell on one damp squib in an otherwise outstanding year in one-day internationals.

Cook's own half-century was the only innings of any substance in England's below-par 182 all out at Trent Bridge as they surrendered their NatWest Series lead and had to share the spoils at 2-2 with South Africa. Hashim Amla (97 not out) and AB de Villiers (75no) saw South Africa home with more than 15 overs and seven wickets to spare.

Cook did not try to hide from the truth of England's hapless batting performance, but made sure to put it into context too. "We're clearly very frustrated, disappointed - especially with the manner of the dismissals," he said. "I don't think I've played in a game where we've given away so many dismissals before."

Cook added: "These things can happen. It's very frustrating when it does happen to you, especially in a series that's there to win."

Cook, also England's Test captain these days, knows nonetheless he has plenty to be proud of after previous series victories in 2012 against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates and then at home to West Indies and Australia - all without losing a single match.

"It's the highest percentage (of wins) we've ever had as a one-day side, this year," he said. "So there are a lot of really encouraging things, and sometimes you've got to look at that big picture."

Cook must now turn his attention properly to England's pressing off-the-field business - negotiations with Kevin Pietersen.

The Test squad to tour India is due to be named next week. In Cook's absence from three forthcoming Twenty20s, he will enter discussions which have so far concerned only Pietersen and coach Andy Flower as England try to work out whether the batsman can return after being dropped over his summer of contract wrangles and text intrigues.

"I haven't really been thinking about it too much, with the one-day series on," said Cook. "Over the next couple of weeks, it's certainly an issue which we as the ECB will have to get resolved. It is a situation which does need to get resolved. There is stuff which needs to be talked about behind closed doors. That will happen."

Amla, meanwhile, can reflect on his very good job done already. "I'm just enjoying it, and I think today's innings was probably one of the most enjoyable - because we were in a spot of bother," he said.

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