Cook keeps focus on series win
Alastair Cook is relishing the chance to go toe-to-toe with Australia once again as England welcome the world’s number-one ranked one-day international side to Lord’s tomorrow for the beginning of the five-match NatWest Series.
There have been no shortage of titanic clashes between the nations over the years and the chance to reignite the rivalry once again is something England skipper Cook knows will whet the appetite of cricket fans everywhere.
While the Essex opener has faced the touring side on many occasions, this series will be extra special as he captains England against Australia for the first time.
"When I was a young boy watching the cricket on TV when Australia came over I loved the rivalry," said Cook.
"Now, to have played in some Ashes series and captaining the side is really exciting. The public do enjoy it, don't they? Lord's is sold out tomorrow so it's going to be good."
Michael Clarke’s team can be knocked from their perch as top dogs should England secure a 5-0 whitewash, but, despite convincing series victories over West Indies, Cook is not about to make any bold proclamations just yet.
"They're a very good side and they've proved that over a number of years. That's why they're at the top of the rankings," he added.
"We're going to have to be at our absolute best to try to win the series.
"It would be an amazing achievement (to get to number one) but I don't want to be quoted saying stuff which gets blown out of proportion.
"We are very much a developing one-day side and we're desperate to keep going up the rankings.
"But let's not get too carried away. We have got plenty of stuff to keep improving on, trying to get good results. Over the next 10 days, we have a chance to do that.
"We're going alright, we've done well at home and we're used to our conditions. Hopefully we can use that as an advantage."
The resounding victories over the Windies at the Ageas Bowl and Kia Oval highlighted England’s dominance in home conditions and that is something Cook wants his team to build on in this series.
He said: "When we go over to those, we find it a lot harder and we have to make it as hard as the opposition do when they come over here.
"Clearly, England, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa have quite similar conditions as well. Sub-continental conditions are different.
"I don't see home advantage being as big in this series as they would be for a sub-continental team.
"We're used to the slope at Lord's, like when we go to Perth or Melbourne they are more familiar in those conditions. But I do believe we play well at home and I'd love that to continue."
There are several players in Australia’s squad who are virtually unknown quantities to England, but Cook got a look at their bowling attack when they overcame Essex in a 179-run win on Tuesday.
Cook, who will be hoping to make it back-to-back centuries after his ton at the Oval, scored just five and conceded: "They are a very good team.
"They beat us well and clearly I'd have liked to have spent a bit more time in the middle to look at their bowlers. That didn't happen. If you do score runs in that it doesn't count for anything. You start on zero next time."
Ultimately, though, Cook admits there is one prize he would not swap for Australia’s current position at the summit of the world rankings.
"If someone said ‘do you want to be number one in the world or win the World Cup’, I would take the World Cup," he said.