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Cook outlines Ashes enthusiasm

By Callum Dent at Trent Bridge

Captain Alastair Cook admits there is great excitement in the England camp ahead of the Investec Ashes Series.

After months of anticipation, the five-Test battle between the old enemies gets under way at Trent Bridge tomorrow.

And Cook - whose troops finalised their preparations with victory over Essex in the LV= Challenge at Chelmsford last week - cannot wait for the long-awaited rubber to start.

"Everyone is desperately excited to be here today," he said at his pre-match press conference.

"There has been such a build-up to the game and we have finally arrived at, pretty much, game day.

"There is just excitement and obviously there are a few nerves floating around.

"We do have to remind ourselves how lucky we are, to be playing in an Ashes series at a fantastic venue with some great support. Sometimes you have to take yourself out of the moment and actually enjoy it because that is what we play sport for in the first place.

"Hopefully we can do that tomorrow."

Many pundits have deemed the hosts favourites to comfortably retain the urn, but Cook expects Australia to offer tough opposition.

“We have been favourites in other series before. Just because it hasn’t been Australia doesn’t mean it’s different,” he explained.

“What we are very aware of is that cricket is never played on paper, and it never will be. It’s about who delivers out there come tomorrow and the next 24 days of cricket.

“That is what is going to be exciting about this series; there are going to be some hell of a good match-ups from both sides.

“Australia are a very, very good side. They have got some world-class players and that is the bottom line. I think in this series there is going to be a high standard of cricket.”

Joe Root is one of only two players - Yorkshire team-mate Jonny Bairstow being the other - in England’s 13-man party not to have previously featured in an Ashes series.

Root has shown he has all the attributes for international cricket ever since making his debut in December during the successful Test tour of India.

The 22-year-old has been a prominent figure in England’s middle order this year, registering his maiden five-day century against New Zealand at Headingley in May.

After an impressive start to the season with Yorkshire, England have opted to give Root the responsibility of opening the batting with Cook, a move the skipper has backed.

“It’s quite similar to what happened with myself, when I moved up from number three to open,” Cook said.

“He has handled himself in every situation fantastically well since he made his England debut.

“I think what has impressed everyone is that he has always batted the situation fantastically well, so whether it’s been a one-day game which needs him to score quickly or see the side home, he has managed to change the style. Twenty20 and Test matches as well.

“I can see no reason why he can’t handle himself. He is a fantastic young player. Yes, he has got a huge amount of improvement to do, but I think he will be absolutely fine.”

England have yet to name their starting XI for tomorrow, but have an array of options in their seam-bowling department with James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Steven Finn, Graham Onions and Tim Bresnan all hoping to gain selection.

Cook has backed his bowlers to succeed in any conditions, adding: “I think it has been proven over a long period of time, whether it is in the sub-continent, here or in Australia in 2010.

“I think the group of bowlers we have got, with the skills and experience they have got now, holds us in good stead to adjust depending on the situation. That’s quite a comforting thing as a captain.”

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