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Cook wants to pack Boxing Day punch

Alastair Cook was disappointed to lose the Ashes but took heart from Ben Stokes' hundred

Alastair Cook has challenged his England team to be at their best for the Boxing Day Test after relinquishing the Ashes urn today at Perth.

Australia won an Ashes series for the first time in seven years thanks to a 150-run victory completed half an hour into the afternoon session on day five at the WACA.

Ben Stokes’ maiden international century in just his second Test could not prevent defeat, leaving the tourists 3-0 down with two games to play.

“I think that was one of the best hundreds I’ve seen, in the circumstances,” Alastair Cook said of Ben Stokes' rearguard 120

In response to such bitter disappointment, captain Cook is keeping his approach straightforward.

Speaking exclusively to ecb.co.uk, he said: “The simple way is the approach doesn’t change in the fact that you go into every game trying to win the game, simple as that.

“Obviously we’re very proud to be wearing the Three Lions and you’ve got to use that. Obviously Boxing Day is a great occasion. We’ve got to make sure we get our minds right.

“It’s going to hurt for a while yet; we know that. But when we come out on the 26th we’ve got to make sure we do what we haven’t done in this series, which is make sure our skills out in the middle are as good as they can be.

“It’s been a surprise that we haven’t found that form and I think it is just a lot of players out of form, and when you do that the team doesn’t play well.”

One player very much in form is 22-year-old all-rounder Stokes who, having bowled 18 second-innings overs, occupied the crease for four and a quarter hours from number six.

His 120 contained 18 fours and six, and was all the more impressive considering it was made on a severely cracked pitch that caused occasional extreme deviation today.

“I think that was one of the best hundreds I’ve seen, in the circumstances, the way he went about it,” Cook added.

“It was a pretty good wicket if it didn’t hit a crack, but it’s pretty unnerving as a batter when you see the cracks there. The way he put that out of the mind, the shots that he played, the strokes he played at the right times, it was an outstanding hundred ... it does bode well for the future.”

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