Cook's feast

England captain Alastair Cook will lead his side into battle against Australia on Wednesday when the 2013 Ashes get underway at Trent Bridge.

Last Updated: 08/07/13 at 15:07 Post Comment

Although the Essex man is skippering his country in an Ashes clash for the first time, the opener has plenty of experience of taking the fight to the Aussies, following his heroics Down Under in the 2010/11 series.

Cook scooped the Man of the Series Award in the last Ashes contest after finishing the five Test series with 766 runs to his name at an average of 127.66, including his huge 235 not out in Brisbane which denied Australia a vital first Test victory.

The batsman shattered all manner of records during the tour and his scores of 148 in Adelaide, 82 in Melbourne and 189 in Sydney helped England to a famous 3-1 series success as they retained the urn.

A 130 haul against New Zealand at Headingley in May indicated Cook is ready to fire against the Aussies again this summer, but before the old rivals go head-to-head once again, the England captain took time out of his preparations to reflect on his remarkable achievements in the last series with Sky Sports...

First Test, Brisbane - Match drawn (Cook 235*)

"We knew we could do something special because of the cricket we'd been playing up to the start of the Ashes. However, at the start of the tour you think of the challenges and how hard work it's going to be - and I didn't personally think it would go quite as well...

"I was probably as nervous as I've ever been playing cricket. We were high in confidence and if we stuck to the game plan which we thought would work we had really good chance. But the first day of the Ashes, away from, in Brisbane, is as big as it gets...

"They always say the first day sets the tone for the rest of the series but thankfully this one didn't; we were outplayed in the first three and a half days. But then Andrew Strauss went out and hit the ball as well I've seen him hit the ball. He was away and played beautifully. The 240 runs we were behind got wiped out in two sessions and that took the pressure off.

"Jonathan Trott then got 135 not out. He's got a unique way of batting in a bubble and once he's in his rhythm he's very hard to get out. Nothing fusses him; he bats the same way if he gets dropped or hits four fours in an over. That gives you a calmness you need at the other end.

"One of the things I really wanted to try and improve on going into the tour was getting bigger hundreds. I'd only had a couple of Test hundreds pass 150 before that so to score 200 was a great moment.

"The match wasn't as nail-biting as Cardiff 2009 but it probably had more emphasis, given the fact our batting had been under criticism the summer before. People were saying we couldn't score the big runs, the bowlers had been carrying us - which they had. But that gave us confidence we could score runs against their bowlers. Negatively on their part they thought 'hang on, these guys have scored runs against us before' and that might have had an effect for the rest of the games."

Second Test, Adelaide - England won by an innings and 71 runs (Cook 148)

"Everyone asks me what the difference was between the two sides in that series and in my eyes it was our bowling attack. In that Test they were fantastic and it was summed up on that first morning when we got those three wickets and Australia were 2/3. But throughout the Tour they were outstanding.

"[Cook was dismissed in Adelaide after scoring another hundred, ending a run of 1053 minutes without getting out]. It's amazing: however many runs you get without getting out, getting out really hurts you. It was frustrating because I was eyeing up another real big 'un. You get greedy. But they bowled well that morning."

Third Test, Perth - Australia won by 267 runs

"We'd talked about what happened at Leeds and what we thought we'd done wrong that week [when Australia levelled the 2009 series] but you have to give Australia a lot of credit for the way they played in Perth. Mitchell Johnson, when he swings it back into the right hander is a different animal. It showed they're a very good side, which maybe people hadn't been giving them credit for, because of the way we had played. It was a tough couple of days."

Fourth Test, Melbourne - England won by an innings and 157 runs

"Within two and a half hours we'd pretty much done the damage. That first day doesn't happen ever, let alone in a Boxing Day Test Match. To bowl them out for 98, yeah, ok, the conditions were in our favour but the bowling was outstanding and to be 150-0 was dreamland. We were sitting down looking at each other at the end of that day thinking 'we haven't won the game yet but we're in such a good position it's almost harder to lose the game'. I can't remember a better day. Apparently Geoffrey Boycott said 'we'll never win from here' when we put them in, which I enjoyed.

"[With the Ashes retained] the feeling was 'mission accomplished' for two hours. There were 20,000 English supporters there and obviously we did the sprinkler, which was very funny. But then, in the dressing room, we had a meeting as a team and said 'enjoy tonight but we deserve to win this series not just retain the Ashes'. You saw in the celebrations how much it meant to everyone but it would have been such a bad way to end the Tour if we didn't play well in Sydney."

Fifth Test, Sydney - England won by an innings and 83 runs (Cook 189)

"That was a tough game for the first part. I actually thought they might have got too many on that wicket but once we got batting on it we realised our bowlers had done an unbelievable job. When they were batting that first day was interrupted by rain and they got 280 after a bit of a partnership towards the end and I thought they'd got 40-50 too many. But it was only when we started batting I realised how well our bowlers bowled on that wicket. Throughout the tour, the way they bowled was the difference."

Coming home

"I realise if I'd carried on playing that form would never have lasted, but there's always that doubt where you think 'would it have carried on?' But I was glad to go home. It was disappointing not to win the one-dayers but it was a job well done and we had an enjoyable flight back!

"Looking back, my favourite innings was probably the Brisbane double hundred. I have to go with that because it was the biggest and it was in the first game of the series.

"The records don't really matter at this moment in time because I want to build on what I've achieved. I'm not saying I'm going to score 700 runs every series but I think it showed I can play at the highest level and being Man of the Series in the Ashes, well, if I don't use that for confidence it would be a waste.

"If I don't do something as special as that again I'd be disappointed but I think I have enough time..."

Sky Sports Ashes HD will show exclusively live ball-by-ball coverage of the Investec Ashes this summer. Find out more about our coverage and how you can tune in here.

Cricket coverage on Sky Sports is available on TV, PC and on the move via mobile and tablet devices, thanks to Sky Go.

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