Ashes 2015: England captain Alastair Cook vows to go on attack to secure win

 
Ross McLean
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England’s Alastair Cook believes he now has the players to opt for a more attacking style of captaincy (Source: Getty)
England skipper Alastair Cook has vowed to showcase an aggressive brand of captaincy in a bid to wrestle the urn from the grasp of bitter Ashes rivals Australia.
On the eve of today’s First Investec Test at Cardiff, both captains appeared to douse talk of a sedate showdown. Cook stressed the importance of attack-minded cricket, while counterpart Michael Clarke talked up the menacing form of his main strike bowler, Mitchell Johnson.
Cook’s captaincy has been under constant scrutiny ever since the left-handed opener took the reins from predecessor Andrew Strauss in August 2012, while his tactics have at times been criticised for being bland and conservative.
But with a new-found team outlook that reflects a more offensive mindset, like that on show during the Test and one-day series against New Zealand earlier this summer, Cook admits he needs to move with the times.
“There is a lot written about my captaincy and it is important I sometimes get on the front foot,” said Cook.
“If you look back at previous teams, they were more methodical. Maybe there’s more opportunity to be on the front foot with the players we’ve got now. As a leader of a group you probably have to change your style of leadership to the players you’ve got in the changing room and what gets the best out of them.”
Australia have failed to win a series in this country since 2001, although England’s last taste of the Ashes was a harrowing experience.
The tourists returned from Australia on the receiving end of a 5-0 hammering during the winter of 2013-14.
That bruising encounter has the potential to haunt a number of the England players set to take the field this morning, although Cook is adamant that his side’s future cannot be dictated by the past.
“The most important thing to remember is that’s gone. You cannot keep harping on about that,” he added. “Cricket’s not played on paper, it’s not played on what happened two years ago, it’s about what happens tomorrow and for the next 25 days from there.”
England’s tormentor-in-chief during the disastrous Ashes tour 18 months ago was left-arm paceman Johnson, who took 37 wickets at under 14 runs apiece, and consistently terrorised the visitors with spells of fierce and intimidating bowling.
Despite his performance during Australia’s tour of England in 2009 being much more erratic – Johnson claimed 20 wickets at an average of 32.55 – Clarke was warned the 33-year-old’s detractors that he is looking ominously dangerous.
“He is as ready as I’ve seen him,” he said. “He’s bowling as fast as I’ve faced in the nets and he’s swinging it. He’s not fun to face. People doubt how well he can bowl in these conditions, and that’s given him that fire in his belly.”

England

PlayerRoleAgeTestsBatting av.High scoreWicketsBowl av.
Alastair Cook (c)Batsman3011446.97294--
Adam LythBatsman27237.50107--
Gary BallanceBatsman251352.19156--
Ian BellBatsman3311043.77235--
Joe RootBatsman/spinner242754.11200*845.25
Ben StokesAll rounder241134.151202943.24
Jos ButlerWicketkeeper24852.6685--
Moeen AliAll rounder281128.50108*3332.60
Stuart BroadSeamer297923.0816928729.77
Mark WoodSeamer2522419933.22
James AndersonSeamer3210410.778140329.42
Steven FinnSeamer262311.26569029.40
Adil RashidLeg-spinner27-----

Australia

PlayerRoleAgeTestsBatting av.High scoreWicketsBowl av.
Chris RogersBatsman372039.35119--
David WarnerBatsman283846.82180--
Shane WatsonAll rounder245835.401767533.05
Steve Smith Batsman/spinner262856.231991551.73
Michael Clarke (c)Batsman3411050.66329*--
Mitchell MarshAll rounder23437.42871164
Brad HaddinWicketkeeper376533.32169--
Mitchell JohnsonSeamer336622.80123*29127.58
Josh HazlewoodSeamer24547.50392419.08
Mitchell StarcSeamer251727.27996032.20
Nathan LyonOff-spinner274115.0740*14634.73
Adam VogesBatsman352167130*--
Shaun MarshBatsman311235.79148--

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