Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook sets sights on back-to-back wins
England captain Alastair Cook has challenged his side to end their frustrating inconsistency by winning two Tests in a row and regaining the Ashes at Trent Bridge.
Birmingham: England captain Alastair Cook has challenged his side to end their frustrating inconsistency by winning two Tests in a row and regaining the Ashes at Trent Bridge.
Cook`s men took a 2-1 lead in the five-match series with a dominant eight-wicket win completed inside three days in the third Test at Edgbaston on Friday.
Yet since drawing their series opener against the West Indies in Antigua in April, England have been unable to string two wins together in their subsequent seven Tests in 2015.
Friday`s victory came on the back of a 405-run defeat in the second Test at Lord`s, which in turn followed England`s 169-run success in the first Test in Cardiff.
Should the sequence be maintained, England would regain the Ashes 3-2 with a win in the series finale at The Oval.
But Cook, understandably would rather England headed to south London 3-1 up -- and believes they can do even in the absence of injured fast bowler James Anderson.
"If (the sequence) goes to nine matches I will be just as happy but it would be nice to break that trend at Trent Bridge," he said on Friday.
"Discussions over a beer tonight will be on that line but we have to enjoy the performance here first.
"Come tomorrow (Saturday) morning we wake up with the challenge of Trent Bridge ahead of us.
"We have got to be tough on ourselves as players and get ourselves absolutely spot on for that game."Winning next week has been made tougher by the fact Anderson, who took an Ashes best six for 47 in Australia`s meagre first innings 136 at Edgbaston, has been ruled out with a side injury suffered while bowling in Birmingham.
Not only is Anderson, who turned 33 on Thursday, England`s all-time most successful bowler in Tests with 413 wickets, he is also a Trent Bridge specialist.
The Lancashire swing and seam bowler has an especially brilliant Test record at the Nottingham ground, with 53 wickets in eight matches at an average of 19.24.
And six of his 18 returns of five wickets or more in Test innings have come there as well.
Durham paceman Mark Wood, absent at Edgbaston because of an ankle injury. could take Anderson`s place.
Steven Finn marked his return to Test cricket after a two-year absence with six for 79 in Australia`s second innings 265 at Edgbaston and that has also strengthened Cook`s belief that England can cope without Anderson.
"Jimmy and Woody are quite like for like," Cook said. "It is disappointing. Jimmy`s record at Trent Bridge is brilliant.
"I said at the beginning of the week we have an opportunity at 1-1 to do something really special in the next three games.
"Now it is an opportunity for someone lucky enough to replace Jimmy to do something very special."
England saw their decision to promote Ian Bell to number three vindicated as the stylish batsman scored two fifties on his Warwickshire home ground, including an unbeaten 65 on Friday that helped see Cook`s men to their victory target of 121.
"It couldn`t be more fitting could it, for Belly to be walking off 60-odd not out in his home Test match to win the game," said Cook.
"We know he`s a fine player but he`s had a bit of a tough time...it happens. Everyone in history has a bit of a tough time," added the opening batsman, who has come through lean spells of his own.
"You`ve got to keep backing the right horse and Ian Bell is certainly the right horse.
"He`s absolutely class and it was a pleasure to see him knock off those runs."