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My wife told me not to quit - Cook

George Dobell at The Oval
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Alastair Cook seriously considered quitting as England captain © Getty Images
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Alastair Cook admitted it was only the support of his wife, Alice, which persuaded him not to resign the England captaincy.

Cook was close to quitting after the fourth day of the second Test against Sri Lanka at Headingley when it became apparent that England were going to slip to a sixth loss in seven Tests and a second successive series defeat.

But Mrs Cook persuaded him to continue and, exactly a month after going one down in the series against India, Cook led England to their first series victory in a year after a crushing defeat of India at The Oval.

"Without my wife, I don't think I'd be standing here as captain," Cook said. "The support I had from my wife persuaded me to continue. You can bare your soul quite often to Alice, and she's very good at getting me back on the straight and narrow.

"But that fourth night was a tough moment. We had let a winning position slip. And Lord's was very tough as well, losing there in conditions very suited to us and winning the toss for a big advantage.

"But I'm quite stubborn; I believe in my ability, and I'm quite a resilient guy. And that was when I needed it most. I'm glad I stuck through the tough times. That's what sport does - tests your character - and to bounce back as a team is a testament to us. I'm here because I believe that I am the right man to try to lead this team forward. I'm very, very privileged to be England captain. It's a great job to have. Even through the tough times.

"You walk out every morning, and you have the name - 'here comes the England captain'. When that's your name, you do it for such a short period of time in your life, you have to hold on to it as long as you can and give it everything."

Cook declined the opportunity to hit back at his critics - the likes of Michael Vaughan and Shane Warne - who had suggested he should quit and instead admitted that his own batting form remained a concern.

"I don't play this game to prove people right or wrong," he said. "I never have. I do it to try to win games of cricket for England, and do my best at all times. So I'm not going to be gloating; that's not who I am. I still think I'm a fair way off my best with my batting. Until I score that hundred, everyone will always talk about it.

"But it's a bit like my character - I can find a way to score runs, and I've got to continue the extra work on it. It's a bit like this team - if I score one, I'll score a few. It's certainly been a long time, and kind of plays on your mind a bit."

Cook also insisted that he always felt his side would win the series, even after they went one down after defeat at Lord's.

"I remember saying, when we were 1-0 down, that I still thought we were going to win the series," Cook said. "I had a lot of confidence in the talent and amount of skill we had in the dressing-room.

"I didn't think we'd win quite this emphatically. But Southampton was clearly a turning point for us, to finally get the win. Suddenly after the first day there, there was a bit of confidence back in us as a side. Once we won there, and enjoyed that night, that was the route of how we wanted to play our cricket against these guys.

"Credit to the five bowlers for the way they've bowled - because with sustained periods of pressure, we haven't let them get away from us. That's very hard to bat against.

"I still think winning away in India was an amazing achievement. So I'm going to rank that one higher, in my eyes. But that still shouldn't take away from the way we've played these last three games. English cricket needed a series win, and to deliver it like we have we have a big smile on our face."

Cook admitted the overwhelming nature of the way England reversed their form was beyond his wildest expectations.

"It is an amazing turnaround, after Lord's to have won like we have in the last three games, the guys can take a huge amount of credit and the new coaching staff.

"It's great to have the support of the guys in the tough times and then the good times like now make it all worthwhile," he said. "That's what sport can do to you. You can have your tough times and it's the character you need to bounce back. We have to enjoy tonight and then look at the reasons why we went from playing how we were to playing good cricket."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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