The Ashes: Cook hoping for ebb in Johnson’s form

Australia pacer was England’s main destroyer in the 2013-14 Ashes Down Under.

Afp July 07, 2015
England find themselves preparing for a first series under a new Australian coach in Trevor Bayliss. PHOTO: AFP

CARDIFF: It’s hard to have more than one series of a lifetime, and England captain Alastair Cook hopes that in Mitchell Johnson’s case it has already happened.

Left-arm fast-bowler Johnson took 37 wickets at under 14 apiece as Australia crushed England 5-0 in the 2013-14 Ashes Down Under.

As a result, there has been talk he could inflict similar damage when this season’s Ashes get under way with the first Test in Cardiff on Wednesday.

But just as Cook himself has come nowhere near matching his tally of 766 Test runs at 127.66 during England’s victorious 2010/11 Ashes tour — indeed he averages under 28 in all other series against Australia — so he believes Johnson will find it hard to replicate his haul of wickets.

“Whether he can repeat that [form] is the challenge here, and we’ve got to make sure we cope with it better if he does,” said Cook.

Taking up a theme voiced by England paceman Stuart Broad, the skipper also suggested conditions in Britain would work in England’s favour when it came to facing Johnson. “Obviously, the pace and bounce in these wickets aren’t as much [as Australia],” he said.

With several members of England’s squad yet to play a Test against Australia and leg-spinner Adil Rashid still to make a debut at this level, Cook said an injection of youthful verve would serve his side well in their quest to regain the Ashes. “The majority of the side is under 15 caps and are really excited about their future,” said the 30-year-old Cook, himself a veteran of 114 Tests.

Australia will be hard but fair: Clarke

Australia captain Michael Clarke has insisted his side will play “hard but fair” cricket as they try to win their first away Ashes series in 14 years.

In the run-up to the first Test, there has been much discussion about ‘sledging’ or verbal abuse of opponents, which the International Cricket Council — having started a crackdown at this year’s World Cup — wants eliminated from the game.

“I think everyone knows where the line is,” he said. “You definitely need to respect the laws of the game, you can play hard but play fair. You don’t have to sledge to play tough cricket.”

Clarke’s three previous Ashes tours have all ended in defeat and the 34-year-old batsman is desperate to fill in one of the few gaps in his illustrious CV by beating England in Britain.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2015.

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