Cook demands top-order improvements


England's top order must improve their consistency if they are to become the best Test side in the world, according to Alastair Cook.

Only Cook, Joe Root, Moeen Ali and Jonny Bairstow average above 50 following the four-match series with Pakistan, which ended 2-2 after the tourists won by 10 wickets at the Oval.

The likes of Alex Hales, James Vince and Gary Ballance were all given the chance to impress but struggled across the four innings and failed to reach 200 runs.

England's fragile batting line-up was exposed in the final match of the series as Pakistan's seamers and Yasir Shah caused plenty of problems, bowling the hosts out for 328 and 253 on a pitch on which the tourists amassed 542 in their first innings.

And Cook says improvements must be made ahead of their tours to Bangladesh and India.

"We've given everyone a pretty fair go," he told BBC's Test Match Special. "For a batter, our currency is runs and as a top order, we haven't consistently been doing it.

"We're still the same side who beat Australia, won away in South Africa so it's not all doom and gloom. We're a work in progress."

While disappointed not to have claimed a series win, the England captain admitted a draw was a fair result given the fight shown by Pakistan across all four Tests.

"It's been a great series to be part of, two good teams playing some good cricket," he said in the post-match presentation.

"Credit to both sides, who played in a brilliant spirit.

"Absolutely it is [a fair result]. We had an opportunity to win it 3-1 coming into this game but Pakistan bounced back really well and deserved to win this game. 

"It probably shows exactly where we are as a side, we played some good games and some not so good games, there are a lot of areas to work on - in this game, all three aspects were shown up a little bit."