CHESTER-LE-STREET: England will bid to complete the second half of their Ashes mission when they face arch-rivals Australia in the fourth Test at Chester-le-Street starting today.
The drawn third Test at Old Trafford left England an unassailable 2-0 up in the series with two to play and meant they had retained the Ashes.
It took England just 14 days to hold on to the urn this time around — the quickest they’ve settled an Ashes series in their favour since the end of the Second World War.
However, England coach Andy Flower was far from satisfied.
“I suppose it is (a great achievement). But for me it’s all about winning this series, so it is still alive with two Tests to go,” he said.
In Manchester, Australia produced a much-improved performance with England collapsing to 27 for three on Monday’s final day before rain ensured a draw.
The result meant Australia had ended a run of six successive Test defeats – their worst for 29 years – and avoided equalling their all-time record losing streak of seven straight Tests set by the 19th century teams of 1885-88.
Australia coach Darren Lehmann put the Old Trafford draw in context by saying, “We’re not going to lose five nil, so that’s a start. I think it (the momentum) has shifted but only time will tell that, won’t it?”
England captain Alastair Cook insisted the fact England had retained the Ashes in 14 days had not diminished their hunger to win the series.
“We want to go on and win the series,” he said. “The way the lads are, the way we are as a team and the way Flower operates, there will be no let up of the standards we set ourselves.
“We start from scratch. We keep saying what a good side Australia are and Old Trafford showed that.”
Cook backs Pietersen as he rubbishes ‘cheat’ claims
Meanwhile, Cook said a report that players were using silicone tape on their bats to avoid nicks being detected by Hot Spot technology was ‘rubbish’.
The allegations were made by Australia’s Channel Nine television on Wednesday, with England batsman Kevin Pietersen said to be one of the players under suspicion.
“When you get called a cheat I think you quite rightly want to clear your name pretty quickly when you haven’t done anything wrong,” said Cook.
“Players have been putting tape on their bats for years. I just think the actual story is a load of rubbish in terms of why people are putting tape on their bats. Fibreglass tape on their bats, that’s been going on for years. That’s just to protect the bat to make it last longer.
“I think that whole story we have to rubbish it because it is rubbish.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 9th, 2013.
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