CHESTER-LE-STREET, England, (Reuters) – Captain Alastair Cook will not let England rest on their laurels after snatching victory from the jaws of defeat in the fourth test and he wants to end the Ashes series in style next week.
The home team had the Durham crowd on its feet after the tea interval on Monday, producing a stirring fightback to win by 74 runs as Australia collapsed from 109 for none to 224 all out.
“Nine wickets in a session, the crowd, the excitement and the nerves…we are going to get greedy and try and repeat that at the Oval,” an elated Cook told reporters after his side took an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series.
“It was a very special day and one that I’ll look back on with real fondness,” he added after England won a third consecutive Ashes series.
England again showed they are developing a knack for getting out of tight spots while Australia, not for the first time this series, failed to get the job done with victory beckoning.
Stuart Broad was named man of the match for his heroic display on Monday’s fourth day, prompting Australia’s second-innings meltdown with figures of six for 50.
Cook, however, said run-machine Ian Bell’s masterful knock of 113, his third century of a remarkable series, was equally important to the team.
“We were 49 for three in the second innings and he came in and played an outstanding innings,” said the skipper. “He’s in great form. He’s a fantastic player to watch but he’s got his runs in really gritty circumstances.”
Cook is not the most fluent of speakers at news conferences and admitted it was a struggle to find the right words to sum up Broad’s six-wicket heroics. “It was a fine spell of bowling but that’s probably not the right adjective,” he said, smiling. “Broady really charged in.
“When everything clicks and, bowling in the high 80s (mph) with the control Broady has, it’s incredibly hard to bat against. I also said that when he got seven wickets against New Zealand,” added Cook in reference to the first test of the season at Lord’s in May.
“It was similar to that. Here it was more important in terms of the situation of the game and because it is the Ashes. Words can’t justify how good a spell of bowling that was.
“We also have to recognise the job Tim Bresnan did at the other end. He really built the pressure which was a huge credit to Bressie,” he said of the all-rounder who took the important wickets of David Warner (71) and Shane Watson (two) on Monday.
While Cook was jubilant, Australia captain Michael Clarke was in desolate mood.
“I want our batters to get more runs,” said Clarke. “I’d like our batting to be stronger.
“Our bowlers are doing a fantastic job. I don’t think we are making enough runs, it’s as simple as that.”
With the return Ashes series coming up in Australia later in the year, Clarke said now was not the time to throw the baby out with the bath water.
“I think we are picking the best players,” he added. “Everyone says rebuild, rebuild, rebuild, but you need guys in first-class cricket making runs to take someone’s slot.
“We have to continue to show faith in these guys, it takes time playing against good opposition. I think the selectors are doing the best they can to pick the best sides.
“The selectors thought these were the best players for these conditions and I think the selectors are doing a fine job,” said Clarke.
“When you pick the squad you have to keep the faith and try and get the best out of them…and it would be nice if the captain led by example and scored a few more runs as well.”