Alastair Cook: Captain expected to stay for World Cup - Paul Downton

Alastair Cook
Alastair Cook was named England one-day captain in 2011

England and Wales Cricket Board managing director Paul Downton says he would be surprised if Alastair Cook is not captain at the World Cup.

Cook averages 24.95 runs in his last 21 one-day internationals, during which time England have won eight matches and suffered four series defeats.

"He's horribly out of form at the moment but, as we all know with form, that can turn," Downton told BBC Sport.

"I would be extremely surprised if he wasn't the captain at the World Cup."

After a 90-run defeat in the sixth ODI in Sri Lanka condemned England to a 4-2 series defeat, coach Peter Moores said there was no guarantee Cook would remain captain and that his position will be reviewed after the tour.

Downton confirmed that a similar discussion was held following the 3-1 home series defeat by India at the end of the English summer.

"The selectors spent a week in September after the India series just really analysing and discussing," said Downton.

"[National selector] James Whitaker went to see Alastair at his home just to talk through from his point of view how he was mentally."

Pressure on Cook's place as leader of the one-day side follows calls for him to stand down as Test captain in the wake of a series defeat by Sri Lanka, a loss in the second Test against India and his own poor form.

But Cook turned it round with two half-centuries in the third Test against India, with England going on to win the series 3-1.

Alastair Cook as England ODI captain

"Just as we saw during the summer - when, frankly, AN Other was going to be the next captain for England - we felt strongly that all his experience, all his toughness would come out," said Downton.

"He's come through a traumatic summer, in terms of the pressure on him. But, in doing so, that dressing room is very much his dressing room, in a way that it could never have been before.

"He's the natural leader of that group of players."

Downton will not have a vote when the selection panel of Moores, Whitaker, Mick Newell and Angus Fraser meet to discuss the 16-man squad for next month's tri-series against Australia and India.

That competition acts as another warm-up for the World Cup, which starts on 14 February.

Downton also gave his reaction to recent claims by Kevin Pietersen of bullying within the England team.

The former wicketkeeper was part of the three-man panel that took the decision to end Pietersen's international career but was only in the role of managing director for the final match of the batsman's 104-Test career.

"The reality was that there is no formal complaint of bullying at all on anybody's record during that whole period," said Downton.

He also insisted the ECB had made the right calls.

"Were they the right decisions? As far as I'm concerned, for English cricket, they absolutely were," he said.

"Now, we're starting to emerge from a pretty traumatic time and it's time for people to get excited again."