Cook hopes to rediscover scoring touch as Ashes countdown begins

Frank Dalleres
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ENGLAND captain Alastair Cook is confident conditions in Australia can aid his quest to rediscover top form, after the squad jetted Down Under yesterday ahead of the forthcoming Ashes series.

Cook struggled for runs as England recorded their third consecutive series win over Australia last summer, scoring an average of 27.7 in 10 innings and no centuries.

By contrast, the 28-year-old opening batsman scored 766 runs at an average of 127.67 in the previous away Ashes series and is confident he can lead from the front and hit those heights once more.

“I had a good time there last time,” said Cook, who has scored 25 centuries in 97 Test matches.

“It would be great to repeat some of those feats.

“I enjoy batting in those conditions, when the ball is flying past your ears a lot. As an opening batsman it’s a great place to test your skills, but then in the afternoon sessions it can be fantastic to bat once you get through the new ball.

“Top-order runs out in Australia are vitally important. The majority of the time 400 is the bare minimum. That’s the job of the top order to make sure we do that.”

Only batsman Kevin Pietersen was absent from the party that flew out from Heathrow last night, with the 33-year-old granted compassionate leave.

Pietersen is, however, expected Down Under ahead of the start of their first three-day warm-up match in Perth against Western Australia XI on 31 October.

England then play additional three-day matches against Australia A in Hobart and New South Wales XI in Sydney, before the first Test begins in Brisbane on 21 November.

And Cook believes the warm-up games are vitally important as his side look to win a fourth consecutive Ashes series for the first time since 1890.

“The games are important for us to get used to the conditions,” added the Essex batsman. “Ideally all the batters will get some time in the middle and the bowlers will get some miles in their legs. That’s the ideal scenario.

“If you look how many sides go to Australia, winning there is certainly no mean feat.

“As an Englishman you know what it will be like. It will be quite hostile at times.

“That last summer was the first time we’d gone into an Ashes series as favourites and I thought we coped with that pretty well, the outcome suggested we did.”