Johannesburg: The South African media has said that England will try to convert the distraction of a looming Ashes series into motivation for Wednesday`s first ICC Champions Trophy semi-final at the Oval against South Africa.
Although the Champions Trophy is a distant second in importance to the clash with fierce rival Australia and defending the Ashes, England is hoping to see a place in the final in the last ever Champions Trophy as ideal build-up for Australia, even if they have already struck the first blow by beating their rivals at this tournament.
Adding a first ODI title on home soil would put England in just the right mood to host the Ashes, with Cook saying that England has a good opportunity to win the tournament as they have almost played knockout cricket throughout the tournament, although he added that the result would be decided by `whichever side handles the pressure`.
However, both teams have a fairly poor record of doing that in big ODI games with England losing three World Cup finals and the 2004 Champions League decider, coupled with South Africa`s late flops in one-day tournaments.
Along with the Ashes, other outside influences have threatened to affect England`s campaign: a late-night bar incident involving Australia`s David Warner and England`s Joe Root and accusations of ball tampering by former England captain and current television commentator Bob Willis.
However, Cook said that the events of the past have no relevance to the semi-final.
Meanwhile, the report said that South Africa will also be distracted by its lingering history of one-day failures and could be overrun by their desperation to finally do well at a major limited-overs event and end coach Gary Kirsten`s tenure on a high.