Seamer Stuart Broad and batsmen Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen have all ensured their places in national cricket history by starring in decisive Tests in the last three home Ashes series.
Immortality beckons for another would-be hero as England attempt to take an unassailable lead before the series finale at the Oval later this month – a point Cook was keen to make yesterday.
“The series is poised at 2-1, there’s an opportunity for someone to really make a name for themselves in the history of English cricket,” he said.
“If someone scores a really big hundred or takes six or seven wickets to help England win the game, their name will be etched in history forever. That’s the opportunity we have.”
That mission is hampered by the absence of injured fast bowler James Anderson, whose 6-47 from Australia’s first innings at Edgbaston last week set up England’s eight-wicket win.
Cook confirmed that Durham’s Mark Wood, who took four wickets on his Ashes debut as England won the first Test in Cardiff, was likely to be tasked with filling the chasm, having recovered from an ankle problem.
“It looks really good for Woody,” he added. “I thought he bowled really well at Cardiff and didn’t quite get it right at Lord’s, but he’s looked fit and ready. Everything he has been asked to do he’s come through with flying colours. He is really excited for the opportunity he has got. He’ll have a last check in the morning but, yes, we’ve got everyone to select from.”
Australia skipper Michael Clarke, meanwhile, admits he must prove his doubters wrong again and engineer a revival if he is to avoid ending his Ashes career on a sour note.
Clarke’s own form has come under the spotlight, with just 94 runs from six innings, as he flirts with the ignominy of becoming the first Australian for more than a century to lose four series in England.
“I’m coming to the back end of my career. I’m 34. There’s no doubt this is my last opportunity to win an Ashes series in England,” he said.
“I’ve had this a number of times throughout my career. That’s what playing sport at the highest level is about: being able to pick yourself up when things don’t go to plan.
“If you get beaten, you get beaten, but I can guarantee you we’re going to have a red-hot crack.”