Alastair Cook: England must 'concentrate on cricket' in Antigua

Cook ready to return in Antigua
First Test: West Indies v England
Venue: Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Antigua Date: 13-17 April Time: 15:00 BST
Coverage: Live Test Match Special radio commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra & BBC Sport website, plus desktop, tablets, mobiles and app.

Captain Alastair Cook has ordered England to concentrate on cricket and nothing else as they begin a punishing run of 14 Test matches in 10 months.

Cook's team face West Indies on Monday in the first of three Tests during an uncertain period in English cricket and after a disastrous World Cup.

West Indian batting legend Sir Viv Richards believes it is "a great opportunity to take England down".

But Cook said: "We must concentrate on what we control, which is the cricket."

How's stat?
England's last Test series win in the Caribbean was in 2004 when they won a four-match series 3-0.
West Indies won a five-match series 1-0 when England last visited in 2009.
England captain Alastair Cook has gone 31 Test innings without a century - a run back to 2013.

England's Caribbean tour is the first time they have played Test cricket since beating India 3-1 last summer.

Since then Cook has been axed from his position as one-day captain and a dismal England were the first major team to exit the World Cup.

The future of Kevin Pietersen continues to dominate headlines, while there has also been unrest behind the scenes at the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), where Paul Downton has left his post as managing director.

Despite all the upheaval, Cook says he is "hugely excited" about facing West Indies, though he warns it will be "incredibly hard" to win the series.

Richards - who lost only eight Test matches out of 50 as West Indies captain - believes his country has a good chance of victory.

"Both teams are still reeling and on the ropes from what has taken place in the World Cup," said the 63-year-old, who will be part of the Test Match Special commentary team. "This is a real chance for the West Indies to make inroads and move forward in the rankings."

England captain Alistair Cook
England drew against a St Kitts & Nevis XI in their final warm-up game before the Test series with the West Indies

Change at the ECB

Asked what effect Downton's departure would have on the players, Cook replied: "To be honest, not a lot."

He added: "Anyone losing their job in any circumstance is not good. It is not nice for him or his family and we all feel for Paul because of that.

"A lot has changed in the ECB over the last 12 months and a lot will probably continue to change over the next 12 months."

Anderson 100 not out

England paceman James Anderson will play his 100th Test when he lines up against West Indies, and Cook describes him as "one of the most skilful bowlers I've ever seen".

England captain Alistair Cook
James Anderson took five wickets on his Test debut for England, against Zimbabwe in summer 2003

The England Test captain added: "I am privileged to play with him and to be standing on the field during his 100th Test is going to be very special.

"It is a wonderful achievement and we are all looking forward to it."

Anderson needs four more wickets to overtake Sir Ian Botham's tally of 383 and become the nation's leading Test wicket-taker.

Trott returns

Jonathan Trott is poised to win his 50th Test cap and his first since quitting the 2013-14 Ashes Tour with stress-related problems.

"To see him back in the England colours is a great achievement," said Cook. "Of course there will be pressure on him. There will be pressure on whoever plays.

"He has done everything we have asked of him in terms of coming back - this is the final hurdle he has to jump."

World Cup regrets

"Of course it was frustrating to watch it from back home because captaining your country at a World Cup is one of the biggest honours in any sport," Cook said.

"But it has gone now, it is irrelevant. We are here to concentrate on Test cricket."

England captain Eoin Morgan
England won only two of their six group games at the World Cup under one-day captain Eoin Morgan

The opposition

West Indies will be without key batsmen Chris Gayle (injured) and Dwayne Bravo (retired from Test cricket). Leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo, who played the last of his 11 Tests in April 2012, returns.

They have a new coach in Phil Simmons, who has taken over after eight years in charge of Ireland. He is the full-time replacement for Ottis Gibson, who won nine of his 36 Tests during his four years in charge.

It is widely agreed that England should have enough in their ranks to win. But Cook warned: "Any time you play away from home in Test cricket it is incredibly hard to win."


West Indies squad for first Test: D Ramdin (capt), K Brathwaite, S Benn, D Bishoo, J Blackwood, C Brathwaite, Da Bravo, S Chanderpaul, J Holder, S Hope, K Roach, M Samuels, D Smith, J Taylor.

England squad: A Cook (capt), J Trott, G Ballance, I Bell, J Root, B Stokes, J Buttler (wkt), C Jordan, A Rashid, S Broad, J Anderson, J Bairstow, A Lyth, J Tredwell, L Plunkett, M Wood.

Umpires: Steve Davis (Aus) and Billy Bowden (NZ)

TV umpire: Bruce Oxenford (Aus)

Match referee: Andy Pycroft (Zim)

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