Cook wants 'big runs'
Perth - England captain Alastair Cook has said "big runs" are the order of the day if they are to win a fourth successive Ashes during the upcoming series in Australia.
England may have won 3-0 in the recent home series yet they did so with their highest total being the 377 they posted in the drawn finale at The Oval.
They compensated by seizing control of matches at key moments, but conditions in Australia are unlikely to be so forgiving should England routinely fail to make 400 in the first innings.
During their 3-1 series win in Australia in 2010/11, England made 517 for one to draw the first Test in Brisbane and in the three matches they won, all by an innings, posted first-innings scores of 620 for five, 513 and 644.
With many of the same batsmen involved again - although the issue of who bats at number six could yet see the current incumbent Jonny Bairstow, not involved in 2010/11, ousted by Yorkshire team-mate Gary Ballance - Cook is looking for similar results.
"Clearly top-order runs out in Australia are vitally important," said Cook, who will miss this week's tour match in Perth to rest a back problem.
"Last time we saw that big runs make a massive difference and set the game up. Sometimes in England 240-250 can be a good score with the overhead conditions, but the majority of the time in Australia 400 is the bare minimum.
"That's the job of the top order to make sure we do that."
Cook enjoyed a stunning series in 2010/11 with 766 runs at an average in excess of 100, while number three Jonathan Trott weighed in with 544 runs.
Both batsmen were subdued during the recent home series and how the pair fare this time around may well have a big say in the series' outcome.
"I had a good time last time in Australia," said Cook. "It would be great to repeat some of those feats.
"I enjoy batting in those conditions, the ball can be flying past your ears quite a lot, it is a real test of the skill you need to play fast bowling.
"The first 15-20 overs with the Kookaburra ball can swing more than the Dukes, but get through that stage, in the afternoon sessions, it's fantastic to bat."
James Anderson and Stuart Broad, who have both been thorns in Australia's side, are set to take the new ball but the identity of a third seamer in a four-man attack completed by off-spinner Graeme Swann remains uncertain.
England have a trio of tall fast bowlers, all expected to prosper on Australian pitches, in Steven Finn, Chris Tremlett and former Ireland seamer Boyd Rankin, while the under-rated Tim Bresnan will look to stake a claim should he recover from a stress fracture of the back.