LONDON, Nov 14, 2014 (AFP) – England captain Alastair Cook insisted Friday the controversy over Kevin Pietersen’s autobiography was well and truly in the past for his side ahead of their one-day international series in Sri Lanka.
England fly out on Sunday for a seven-match series designed as part of their preparations for next year’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
They do so with the furore over star batsman Pietersen’s book having just about died down since it was launched in a blaze of publicity last month.
South Africa-born Pietersen, ditched by England earlier this year following the 5-0 Ashes series loss in Australia, blasted former coach Andy Flower and several current players, saying a "bullying culture" had been created in the dressing room.
But Cook, speaking to reporters at Lord’s on Friday, was adamant England’s one-day squad had not been disturbed by all the sound and fury happening around them.
"We’ve had a couple of weeks together and we haven’t felt the need to talk about it at all," Cook said.
"It’s all happened now, it’s all out now from his (Pietersen’s) side and as players we’ve left it, there’s nothing more that can really come out.
"We just want to build and move forward as a side and as a captain, that’s a good place to be."
England have lost five of their last six one-day international series and last week retired India great Sachin Tendulkar wrote off their chances of winning the World Cup — something England have not done in nearly 40 years’ of trying.
Indeed England, on home soil, were comfortably beaten by reigning World Cup champions India during their last ODI series, with former skipper Michael Vaughan and retired off-spinner Graeme Swann, who played alongside Cook, both calling for the Essex left-hander to step down as one-day captain of the national side.
– Tactical nous –
But having seen pundits bay for his resignation as Test captain before leading England to a series win over India last season, Cook said: "Didn’t Michael Vaughan want me out as Test captain as well?
"That was about a week before and he actually had to admit he was wrong then as well… It would be great if people changed their tunes in five months’ time.
"Do I have the tactical nous? Without a doubt. I think the only time England have been number one in the world in one-day cricket was when I was captain."
Cook has struggled for runs in white-ball cricket during the past year, with many believing his essentially orthodox approach at the crease is symptomatic of England’s outdated one-day tactics.
However, Cook said: "We haven’t won over the last couple of series so we do have to improve but it’s not about a radical change of method.
"You talk about strategy but for me it’s about individuals playing as well as we can.
"If we can peak at the right time for the World Cup, we’ve got a really good chance and I don’t think anyone will want to play us."
Following the Sri Lanka tour, England will travel to Sydney for a triangular one-day series with Australia and India.
That will give England at least 11 ODIs — 12 if they reach the tri-series final — before the World Cup gets underway on February 14.
England have often been accused of not taking ODI cricket seriously but Cook believes the upcoming schedule is proof they are serious when it comes to their World Cup aspirations.
"This has gone back a few years of planning as to why our World Cups haven’t gone as well as they should have done," Cook said.
"I for one am very excited about playing one-day cricket without Test cricket in the foreground."
He added: "That pressure on an England side is always there. People demand success because they want England to win and there’s no point in hiding away from that."