Cook champions new approach
Skipper Alastair Cook believes England have found a formula that can ensure they are challenging for the top honours in one-day international cricket.
Cook oversaw another resounding victory over Australia at Old Trafford this evening, completing a 4-0 NatWest Series triumph.
In the end, the hosts were left rueing a washout in the third encounter at Edgbaston as a 5-0 success would have lifted Cook’s men to the summit of the International Cricket Council ODI rankings.
Yet that does not detract from a success that has left some tipping England as early favourites for the World Cup, which takes place in Australia two and a half years from now.
Such predictions are undoubtedly premature, but Cook et al have benefited from a strategy that emphasises stability in the batting combined with an outstanding pace quartet.
“Clearly we are heading in the right direction with the group of players we have got,” Cook said.
“It is great that we have the strength and depth that we do. Clearly we have to be playing as well as we are playing now to win big tournaments.
“I think we have (got a good strategy). If we stay true to the basic principles of what we have been doing, we will do well.
“We have to keep building upon that now and keep expanding our skills.”
He added: “At the beginning of the series, you just want to get the win. So, to be sitting here at 4-0 is fantastic.”
Another feature of England’s recent success has been their ability to not lose too many wickets.
Their 4-0 whitewash of Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates saw an England opener hit a century in each encounter.
One of those, Kevin Pietersen, retired from limited-overs cricket prior to the recent 2-0 success against West Indies.
However, Ian Bell has slotted in seamlessly since, picking up the man-of-the-series award in that rubber as well as the one completed tonight.
“It could not have gone better,” said Bell. “Our bowlers have bowled so well that we have not had to chase too many big scores.
“I feel I have established myself at the top of the order. I have really enjoyed it and think me and Cooky have done well together.”
Tonight’s victory was a continuation of the dominance England have exerted over the old enemy this summer.
In a rain-shortened encounter, Australia managed just 145 for seven from 32 overs – and England's target was subsequently reduced to 138 from 29 following a brief rain delay.
That mattered little, however, as Cook struck 58 and Ravi Bopara 52 not out to see England to a 10th successive ODI victory – much to the dismay of touring skipper Michael Clarke.
“We came here desperate to win and play well throughout the series,” he said. “I certainly did not expect to lose 4-0. I am not surprised at how they played, just disappointed with the way we did.
“We have been outplayed in every game and they deserve great credit.”