Cook eyes flood of runs Down Under
Alastair Cook knows he, Joe Root and Jonathan Trott must score more runs this winter if England are to create history by winning the Ashes for a fourth successive time.
Captain Cook and his England team-mates fly out to Australia on Wednesday night with memories of their recent 3-0 series win still fresh in their minds.
England beat the visitors 3-0 at home this summer, but they failed to pass 400 once. The hosts mainly relied on Ian Bell for big scores. Root was the only batsman in the top three to make a century while Cook and Trott posted poor averages in comparison to their usual high standards.
The last time England managed to win four series in a row against the Australians came in 1890, and Cook concedes his team must build big scores to achieve that feat.
"I think 3-0 was a pretty good result, I would love to do that again, but clearly top order runs out in Australia are vitally important," Cook told a press conference at Heathrow Airport just prior to their departure.
"We saw that was the case last time we went there. We saw how big runs made a massive difference and set the game up.
"Sometimes in England 240 or 250 can be good scores with the overhead conditions, but the majority of the time, 400 in Australia is the bare minimum.
"It is the job of the top order to make sure we do that."
Cook sneaked past 50 on two occasions this summer, but failed to make a ton and ended up scoring 277 runs at an average of 27.7.
The England captain admits that was not good enough.
Cook does gain some comfort in the fact that he tore Australia apart the last time England went Down Under, when he scored 766 runs at an average of 127.
"I had a good tour last time and it would be great to repeat some of those feats there," the Essex opener said.
"I didn't execute as well as I could have done this summer. Sometimes that happens.
"I enjoy batting in (Australian) conditions, the ball can be flying past your ears quite a lot, so it's a great test of your skill in how to play fast bowling. "If you get through the first 10 or 15 overs, normally it's fantastic to bat on."
Although England's last Test came two months ago, some of the squad played on in to September in the limited-overs sides.
With such little down time since the last Ashes, and with such a long tour ahead, England's players would be forgiven for dreading the prospect of flying to Australia for two months, but Cook says the squad are brimming with excitement and optimism ahead of the series.
"It's good to get that buzz again. The lads are ready," Cook said.
Cook admits his squad, who took part in a series of team-building exercises in the midlands last week, are favourites to win the urn, but he has warned his team they will not get an easy ride in Australia.
"Complacency won't be a factor," Cook added.
"The players getting on that plane know what it means to play for England in Australia and we have a chance to win four Ashes series in a row for the first time since 1890.
"We are excited and desperate to do that."
Cook again brushed off Darren Lehmann's claims that England were an unattractive side to watch.
"To me its all about results," Cook said in response to comments made by the Australia coach this summer.
"And 3-0 sounds a lot better than 0-3."
England play the first of three warm-up games on October 31 against Western Australia, with the first Test due to start three weeks later at The Gabba in Brisbane.
Tim Bresnan will fly out with the squad and England will monitor his recovery from a back injury before deciding whether he is involved in the series.
Kevin Pietersen joins up with the squad on Sunday after being granted compassionate leave following the death of a friend.
Monty Panesar will get a run out against Western Australia as England look to assess his state of mind following a tough summer for the spinner.
Panesar was arrested for urinating on a bouncer in Brighton during the summer and he also received a suspended ban for an altercation with Worcestershire player Ross Whiteley.
"Clearly he'd had a tough summer," Cook said.
"But I certainly think he's on the right path now."
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