Former England captain Alastair Cook insists he has no plans to retire anytime soon, but admits he needs to start scoring some runs to keep the wolves at bay.
Australian paceman Mitchell Johnson and former Test star Kevin Pietersen have both indicated in recent days Cook’s body language and unconvincing start to the Ashes series suggest the veteran is nearing the end of his storied career.
England’s leading run-scorer will notch his 150th Test cap on Thursday in the third Test against Australia at the WACA Ground.
The 32-year-old has averaged just 15.5 runs so far this series, and says he’s desperate for a big score in Perth, where the tourists will relinquish the urn if they lose the Test.
Cook is the first to admit he’s not setting the world alight with the bat.
But he was quick to hit back at talk from critics like Pietersen and Johnson that he was ready to retire.
“For the people who are saying that, they’ve had no contact time with me,” Cook said.
“They wouldn’t know the extra nets I’ve been doing behind closed doors.
“I was with [my batting coach] yesterday for an hour-and-a-half in the morning, desperate to keep working on my game.
“That’s probably not a guy who’s given in.
“To be honest with you, I have no idea [when I’ll retire]. And I’ve said that since I gave up the captaincy.”
Cook added the caveat that, “Things change incredibly quickly”, highlighting how he was taught a lesson leading up to the 2014 World Cup in Australia.
“In the morning, I was expecting to lead England in the World Cup and, in the afternoon, I got a call saying they didn’t want me to do it,” he said.
“And that was an hour after a meeting where they said they wanted me to.”
Cook spoke about the pride he still felt when representing England.
But he knows he needs to produce the goods with the bat if he is to hold onto his spot.
“If you’re scoring lots of runs all the time, your place is guaranteed,” Cook said. “If you’re not scoring runs, there’s other talented people who want your place.
“That hasn’t changed for 12 years, and it won’t change for the next 20-odd years.
“People want your place, and it’s down to me to score some runs to get those people off my back.”
Former England captains Nasser Hussain and Michael Vaughan are backing Cook to get out of his slump.
Hussain said if he wanted an England player to bat for his life, it would be Cook.
And Vaughan is confident Cook can work his way back into good form, and possibly play on until the 2019 Ashes in England.