Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

It's Time to Smarten Up, Cook Tells His England Team-Mates

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

It's Time to Smarten Up, Cook Tells His England Team-Mates

Article excerpt

ALASTAIR Cook warns England must wise up to a changed world if they are to regain the respect of a nation.

Cook will become the first Englishman to reach 150 Test caps when he tries to help Joe Root's troubled Ashes tourists turn their series around in Perth this week.

But it is a stream of off-the-field, alcohol-related controversies which has placed England's reputation most in jeopardy.

As their 32-year-old nationalrecord run-scorer seeks to arrest his worrying dip in form, he concedes the bar-room backdrop to England's two defeats so far owes its genesis to Ben Stokes' arrest outside a Bristol nightclub back in September.

Cook knows that incident, awaiting resolution with Stokes still absent while police decide whether to charge him, has drastically altered public perception.

There will be no wriggle room at the WACA, as Root's men bid to overturn almost 50 years of nearunchecked failure at this venue, and Cook accepts there is none either whenever his team-mates venture out after dark these days.

Two episodes, six weeks apart but played out in the same Perth bar, go a long way to proving his point.

First, Jonny Bairstow made all the wrong headlines with his misjudged 'headbutt' greeting for Australia opener Cameron Bancroft; then, six days ago, Lions batsman Ben Duckett chose to pour a drink over all-time national leading wicket-taker James Anderson's head.

"The world obviously changed for the England cricket team in September," said Cook.

"Those last two incidents have proven there is very little margin for error when you've had a beer.

"We've just got to smarten up, and we've got to do it quickly - because there's too much at stake."

The former captain knows what it is like to play to an unappreciative audience, having won the Ashes in 2013 only to discover most people were disengaged.

"We won an Ashes series 3-0, but the public weren't happy," he added. …

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