England plan to storm fortress Brisbane

Alastair Cook’s England intend to storm fortress Brisbane in pursuit of a remarkable fourth successive Ashes series victory.

Alastair Cook and Michael Clarke
Alastair Cook (left) and Michael Clarke with the Ashes urn

Last time round, only three years ago thanks to a World Cup-enforced scheduling switch, Cook was the cornerstone under Andrew Strauss’ captaincy as the tourists merely got out of the Gabba in one piece.

The heroic Cook-Strauss-Jonathan Trott rearguard was nonetheless a prelude to overdue Ashes success down under — and two of the three are back for more as cricket immortality beckons.

Not since the days of WG Grace, back in 1890, have England managed to complete a sequence of four or more series wins over their oldest opponents.
Cook is careful to ensure neither he nor his team gets caught up too early in that quest for the quartet.

But he does not mind setting his sights on overturning 25 years of more recent history, by inflicting defeat on Australia at this ground for the first time in a quarter-of-a-century.

Brilliant record
“Australia have a very good record in Brisbane, and it’s our job to try to change that,” Cook said. “We’ve spoken about their record here - not losing for 25 years is a good achievement.”

Peter Siddle
Australian paceman Peter Siddle changes his shirt during a nets session at The Gabba in Brisbane. Pic/Getty Images

Cook is convinced, however, that his modern England have the pedigree to pull off a Gabba heist. “We spoke about something like this at Lord’s in 2009, when we played them (and won).

We hadn’t beaten them for 70-odd years at Lord’s, and we made a real conscious effort to try to change that. “This side has done that a number of times — when there have been specific challenges ahead of us, we’ve delivered.”

England, their captain insists, are not cowed by the credentials of hosts who may have long been formidable at this venue yet could not muster an Ashes Test win last summer and were sent home with only a hard-fought one-day international series success as consolation after a four-month tour. “There’s no reason to feel intimidated,” Cook said.

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