England all-rounder Ravi Bopara has launched a passionate defence of besieged captain Alastair Cook ahead of the fourth one-day international at the WACA Ground on Friday, declaring he is the right man for the job.
The tourists arrived in Perth yesterday seeking their first victory over Australia this summer after the hosts claimed the one-day international series with a crushing seven-wicket win at the SCG on Sunday night.
The result continued a horror summer for Cook, who admitted he was unsure of his future in the wake of the defeat which followed the 5-0 drubbing in the five-Test Ashes campaign.
But Bopara said the England players had stressed to Cook that he was the perfect candidate to lead them for the rest of this tour and beyond.
"He's a good leader, he's a smart leader and just because we've lost a couple of games, I don't think he should doubt himself," Bopara said.
"Having spoken to him, he does still believe in himself and that's the most important thing.
"That is 90 per cent of every- thing, self-belief. I do believe that your best player should be your captain and I still believe that he is our best player.
"Batting at the top of the order, he's the sort of guy who will go out and score hundreds for England, bat through the innings, and that's the sort of guy we need.
"The other players see it the same way."
England's task of recording a drought-breaking victory has been made easier by Australia's decision to rest several key players before next month's tour of South Africa.
Australian captain Michael Clarke has remained in Sydney for game four, as have Brad Haddin and David Warner, who will miss the last two games of the series.
Clarke is expected to return for the Australia Day finale at Adelaide Oval.
George Bailey will captain the team in Clarke's absence at the WACA, while Matthew Wade and Steve Smith replace Haddin and Warner.
Imposing spearhead Mitchell Johnson will be the vice-captain in Perth.
"It's not a nice feeling knowing that some of the main guys are going to be resting, because you want to win against the strongest side," Bopara said of Australia's stance.
"But resting is part of the game these days.
"I don't really care, to be honest, I just want to win.
"Whether they rest players or not, it's not my problem, it's not England's problem, we just need to go out and win."
"He's a good leader, he's a smart leader … I don't think he should doubt himself."" *Ravi Bopara * on Alastair Cook