Cricket

Alastair Cook issues Ashes rallying call

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Alastair Cook has called on his England team-mates to seize their place in history with an Ashes-clinching performance at Trent Bridge this week.

Victory inside three manic days at Edgbaston left the hosts 2-1 in front and with a golden opportunity to regain the famous urn just 18 months after their 5-0 humiliation Down Under.

If England continue their recent Jekyll and Hyde form - they have followed their last three Test wins with defeats - the sides will reconvene for a winner-takes-all showdown at The Oval later this month, but Cook wants his men to get the job done in Nottingham.

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And as he casts around for a potential match-winner, he need not look far for precedents.

Kevin Pietersen's maiden hundred ensured victory in the 2005 decider, Jonathan Trott followed suit on debut four years later and Stuart Broad's unforgettable spell in Durham sealed the 2013 edition.

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Cook, whose own 189 was the headline act in the fifth Test of England's 2010-11 triumph Down Under, said: "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.

"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 as a side. No one gave us a chance at the beginning of the series, everyone was writing us off.

"Now we're 2-1 up, which sounds a great position to be in - and it is because it's better than being 2-1 down - but there's a lot of cricket to play."

England's victory push has been hindered by the loss of their leading Test wicket-taker James Anderson, who has a side strain.

Their preference is to recall Mark Wood, who was rested last time out, though he will first have to pass a morning fitness test, with Liam Plunkett and the uncapped Mark Footitt on standby.

Parallels have been draw with Glenn McGrath's ankle problem 10 years ago, an injury that effectively set England on the path to glory, but Cook believes his attack can step up in Anderson's absence.

"He (McGrath) was a big miss for them and Jimmy is a big miss for us - he gives you attacking options and control," he said.

"But there's no point moaning about that... it is a great opportunity for whoever is picked to take on that mantle."

Cook's opposite number, Michael Clarke, finds himself firmly under the spotlight as he battles both a worrying downturn in form and the prospect of losing a series in England for the fourth time.

They are twin battles he intends to win.

"The self-belief is still there, because I'm putting in the work," said Clarke.

"I'm confident I'm a good enough player, and I've prepared well enough to walk out and make runs in this game.

"I still believe if we play our best we can win this Test match and the series."

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Topics:
The Ashes
Cricket

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