Cook challenges pacer Johnson to repeat Ashes heroics

Cardiff, July 7 (IANS) England captain Alastair Cook on Tuesday challenged Australian fast bowler Mitchell Johnson to repeat his heroics of the 2013-14 Ashes and compared his wave of destruction during the previous edition’s whitewash as a rare vein of form that was not dissimilar to his own batting dominance in Australia three years earlier.

“Mitchell (Johnson) had the series of a lifetime, pretty similar to what happened in 2010-11 with my form, you get on a bit of a roll and you can do no wrong,” Cook was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au, ahead of the first cricket Test starting here from Wednesday.

“Always credit when it’s due, he bowled very well and bowled quickly. Whether he can repeat that, that’s the challenge and we’ve got to make sure we cope with it better if he does,” he said of the Australian left-arm pacer.

Cook also points out that the team England takes into this campaign is markedly different to the one that became the second touring party to lose the Ashes five-nil in Australia in less than a decade.

Gone from that line-up are retired veterans Graeme Swann and Matt Prior, while Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott and Tim Bresnan are seemingly playing out their careers for county or Twenty20 franchise teams.

In their places come Adam Lyth, Gary Ballance, Moeen Ali and Jos Buttler who, as Cook points out, come without too many scars from campaigns past and provide an ideal counter-balance to the old hands such as James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Ian Bell and the skipper himself.

“That side at the end of 2013-14 was right at the end of its life cycle, I suppose. A lot of players have gone from that side who were kind of hanging on,” the left-handed batsman said.

“In this side we’ve got two or three slightly older statesmen I suppose you could call them, with 80-plus caps, and the majority of the side is under 15 caps and are really excited about their future. They’ve got the chance to create their own history.”

Also speaking on new chief coach Trevor Bayliss, the 30-year-old said: “There is no nonsense to him, he says what he thinks and we’ve only known him a week but he’s pretty simple in his approach, he’s made that clear.

“And obviously he’s got some good knowledge of the Australians from working with them over the last few years. That’s going to help us, but at the end of the day it’s the eleven players that have got to do it.”

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