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England contemplating reshuffle

Alastair Cook looks ahead to the fifth and final Ashes Test

England skipper Alastair Cook has hinted that changes will be made to the XI for the final Ashes Test in Sydney.

With the tourists 4-0 down and desperate to avoid a 5-0 whitewash, alterations are expected with Boyd Rankin, Scott Borthwick and Gary Ballance all tipped to earn five-day debuts.

It remains to be seen whether that many switches are made, although one could well be enforced as Monty Panesar struggles with a calf problem.

“We need to assess Monty after training today,” said Cook. “We will see how he pulls through and make a decision.”

Should England choose to give three players bows, as suggested, it would be a move that injects youth into the side.

Cook, though, insists such calls would be made only with this Test in mind, rather than a longer-term view.

He added: “It is dangerous to look too far into the future and we always try to pick a side to win the Test match you’re playing.

“The only time you look to the future is if you have two players of similar standing and you cannot make your mind up.

“It’s an exaggerated example but if one is 22 and the other 36, you would probably pick the younger guy.”

Cook believes it is wise, too, not to allow knee-jerk reactions amid England’s disappointing series – even if criticism is amplified.

“We've had a helluva lot of success in this England side,” he said. “This is my first series loss as a captain, so it’s not all doom and gloom.

“When you lose you start stripping back everything, looking at everything that’s gone wrong, every little aspect you think you can improve.

“In one way, sometimes you have to go through that to see where you are as a side, as a person.”

Cook concedes that this tour has “hurt”.

“When you lose games like we have, it’s a tough place to be as a captain, especially on a big tour with as much media coverage as this,” he said. “Make no mistake, it hurts for me.

"All the criticism you get when you lose is always exaggerated, and there's always hyperbole when you win.

"It's something I've been used to in my career so far, and it will happen to everyone who plays a lot of Test cricket.

"To say I'm 100 per cent [unaffected] would be wrong, but I'm proud of the way I've handled myself in this series."

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