Ashes: That was quick!

Alastair Cook has admitted it feels “slightly strange” ahead of this winter’s tour of Australia as he prepares his England side for next month’s return Ashes series Down Under.

England players
England cricketers prepare to bat during a training session at the WACA Ground in Perth yesterday. Pic/AFP

England secured a 3-0 victory over their great rivals in the summer on home soil and are now focused on claiming a back-to-back series win, with the first Test due to start at the Gabba on November 21.

England defeated Australia 3-1 in 2010-11 to mark their first triumph in Australia for 24 years and Cook is hoping to repeat that feat, especially as his side has a very good knowledge of their opponents.

“It’s slightly strange to happen so quickly. It doesn’t seem like any time in history we’ve played 10 Tests against the same opposition within six months so it is a little bit strange and it doesn’t seem that long ago since we were here sitting doing exactly the same thing in Perth in 2010,” Cook said at a press conference in Perth.

“That’s one of the very interesting things for people watching: Sides start to work out guys very well and how people react to knowing what the plans are going to be — and how they react themselves.

“There are quite clear plans to a lot of players which are quite well known to the players and the public. Just seeing how certain people overcome that will be interesting.”

Ahead of the first Test, Cook has challenged England’s quick bowlers to prove they deserve to start alongside James Anderson and Stuart Broad in Brisbane.

Pace battery
England have no shortage of fast bowling options available to them, with uncapped Boyd Rankin joining Steven Finn and Chris Tremlett in battling for the final pace berth and the injured Tim Bresnan waiting in the wings.

Captain Cook confirmed there was even a chance the Yorkshireman could be back to full fitness come the start of the first Test, although they will not know until they see how his back reacts when he begins bowling again.

In the meantime, Cook hopes to see his squad making the most of their opportunities in the warm-up games.

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