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Alastair Cook says England’s priorities ‘don’t make sense’ in wake of New Zealand Test defeat

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Alastair Cook has questioned England’s priorities, after the selectors named their strongest available white-ball squad to take on Sri Lanka this week, only days after an under-strength Test team lost to New Zealand for their first home series defeat since 2014.

Cook, who was England captain when they were overturned by Sri Lanka in a thrilling penultimate-ball loss at Headingley seven years ago, said he had huge sympathy for his successor, Joe Root, who has been deprived of his first-choice XI in each of England’s last eight Tests, dating back to the tour of Sri Lanka in January.

Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer have been injured this summer and so were unavailable as New Zealand surged to victory at Edgbaston for their first series win in England since 1999, but Jos Buttler is due to make his return to the white-ball side after missing each of England’s last five Tests, dating back to their victory in Chennai in March.

None of England’s other IPL-contracted players were made available for the New Zealand series either, meaning that proven performers such as Sam Curran, Chris Woakes, Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali were also unable to balance a side that Root conceded was “lop-sided” even before their eight-wicket defeat. And Cook, speaking at the launch of Yorkshire Tea’s #NationalCricketWeek said that the situation that England have got themselves into “doesn’t make much sense”.

“Clearly it was disappointing,” Cook said. “England have got themselves in a tough situation for the winter. It was going so well, winning in Sri Lanka and then they’re 1-0 up against India. To then rest and rotate players, ever since that moment they’ve ended up chasing their tail – ending up with a fifth-choice wicketkeeper [James Bracey], an unbalanced side even though people were playing the [T20] Blast.

“You’ve got a Test captain who hasn’t been able to play his best side, yet we seem to be playing a full-strength side in the T20s against Sri Lanka,” he added. “The decisions don’t look like they’ve been made correctly. Of course they’re trying their best to make the right decisions for the right reasons, but when you’re playing for England, you get judged on end results most of the time, so you’d have to say it hasn’t worked.

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