England stood by their united assurances that Alastair Cook is still the man to lead them forward, by confirming him as captain for the third Investec Test against India.
Cook’s was the most notable of two names - uncapped wicketkeeper Jos Buttler’s was the other - which immediately caught the eye, for very different reasons, in a 13-man squad announced on yesterday.
Many have contended, especially after two more failures at the top of the order as England went 1-0 down at Lord’s, that Cook needs a break from his exacting responsibilities.
The 29-year-old emerged from a 95-run defeat, however, proclaiming his determination to carry on and try to put his stamp on England’s ‘new era’ alongside returning coach Peter Moores.
After several hours of deliberation from the selectors, it emerged he will be granted that chance in Southampton.
England will pick 11 from a largely familiar list, notwithstanding a Lord’s result which national selector James Whitaker acknowledged was “very disappointing”.
Buttler is the fresh face set for a debut, after Matt Prior ruled himself out for the remainder of the summer in order to address a series of injury worries - chiefly an Achilles problem, which is likely to require surgery.
Moores, picking up the pieces after England’s Ashes whitewash last winter, has no doubt Cook is the man to help him do so - despite their stuttering start together.
“I think he’s showing as a captain that he’s developing quickly, in a time of real adversity. He will make mistakes - we all do.
“The question is ‘can he be the captain who can take the team forward in the long term?’
“Can he be that man? In my opinion, yes, and so I’m going to support him through that.”
England have begun the summer with defeat in all three formats to Sri Lanka, and must now recover from one down with three Tests to play against India.
Moores insists, however, that Cook’s appetite for the challenge has never faltered.
He said: “Alastair is not naive. He’s been around international sport long enough.
“He understands it’s a tough time, and there are areas he’ll get better - and I think he can feel he’s getting better.
“He’s not a finished article ... (but) he’s determined to be part of it, and I think that’s the right decision for English cricket.”
The Lord’s setback, featuring the loss of six wickets for 50 runs to Ishant Sharma just when it seemed England might have a chance of pulling off their second-highest all-time run chase, was dispiriting.
“When you lose a game like that, you feel gutted,” added Moores.
“You’ve put a lot into the game, and you know the players have as well.”
He is confident nonetheless that Cook will respond admirably.
“He’s resilient. He’s strong. He’s disappointed.
“He’d set his stall out, when we were set a score to win the game, that he was going to be the man who was going to do that.
“There was a strong will in the ground, and across the country, for him to do it - but it didn’t happen.
“He’s played sport long enough to know it doesn’t always happen how you want, but he’s determined to be a part of building a team for the future - and that’s what we’re trying to do.”