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Cook salutes "fantastic" England

Alastair Cook enjoys reflecting on England's victory in Perth

By Rob Barnett

Alastair Cook hailed the way England played in their maiden international win on the trying tour of Australia.

Cook had previously presided over eight straight losses Down Under - five in an Ashes whitewash followed by the first three games of this one-day series.

Defeat to Australia in September’s last NatWest Series ODI meant England were facing the prospect of a record-equalling 10 straight setbacks.

However, they rallied for a 57-run victory at the WACA, reducing their arrears to 3-1 ahead of Sunday’s series finale at Adelaide.

Speaking exclusively to ecb.co.uk, Cook admitted to having “a sense of relief”.

He continued: “At the start of the day you wake up thinking ‘if you lose another one, it’s 9-0, 10-0’. But actually the way we played today was fantastic.

“We played a really good game. We took some really positive options with the bat and we held our nerve with the ball.

“We didn’t start so well with the ball, but I liked the way people got it wrong but dusted themselves off and improved and got it right later on in the game.”

Alastair Cook praised a "mature" 70 by Ben Stokes, pictured, and brisk 71 from Jos Buttler, whom he said is "is incredibly hard to bowl at"

Cook responded to losing the toss by sharing a swift stand of 87 with Ian Bell, the openers making 44 and 55 respectively.

Ben Stokes, batting at three for just the second time in ODIs, held the innings together with a composed 70 before Jos Buttler’s 43-ball 71 bolstered an imposing 316 for eight.

With Kevin Pietersen - who like Cook hit two hundreds when England whitewashed Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates two years ago - to return, the captain is optimistic for England’s prospects at next year’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

“We got a bit of a flyer,” he said. “If you’re being hypercritical, one of us - me and Belly - would have liked to carry on and the difference would make 340. But that doesn’t always happen and it hasn’t quite happened on this trip.

“I can remember when we won in Abu Dhabi against Pakistan, we scored four hundreds on that trip and we won 4-0. We know we’ve got people to do that and I think you saw glimpses today that was there.

“Stokesy played a very mature innings and Jos at the end is incredibly hard to bowl at. People like that are match-winners. We’ve just got to keep working really hard on our games and keep improving.

“I think the encouraging thing is after all what’s happened - I know it’s only one game - I think even from the start of this one-day series until now we’ve made big strides in these conditions, which we’ll need in a year’s time.”

Australia also made a quick start to their innings, Aaron Finch and Shaun Marsh adding 46 inside seven overs until Tim Bresnan struck.

Although Finch went on to his second ton of the series, England chipped away at their opponents - Stokes taking 4-38 - helped in part by some profitable bowling changes from Cook that saw five wickets fall in the first over of a new spell.

“That’s more luck that judgement. That’s more down to the bowlers being ready to bowl. That doesn’t always happen,” Cook added.

“I can give a lot of credit to the bowlers, the way they held their nerve. They could have been ‘here we go again’ after they were 48 for none off five or whatever they were. But they dusted themselves off and came back.

“And what impressed me a lot is, if you go back to Brisbane where we should have defended 300, Stokesy - who had a bit of a tough last few overs - he was the one who was crying out for the ball in those last 10 overs and bowled really well.

“It’s not always going to happen but we need those guys who are prepared to put themselves on the line again, and this time he delivered. He’ll admit that he bowled a lot better.”

Meanwhile, Australia have announced that Mitchell Johnson, whose 10 wicketless overs today cost 72, will be rested for Sunday's ODI.

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