London - It's hard to have more than one series of a lifetime and England
captain Alastair Cook hopes that in Mitchell Johnson's case it has already
Left-arm fast bowler Johnson took 37 wickets at under 14 apiece as Australia
crushed England 5-0 in the 2013/14 Ashes 'Down Under'.
As a result, there has been talk he could inflict similar damage when this
season's Ashes get underway with the first Test in Cardiff on Wednesday.
But just as Cook himself has come nowhere near matching his tally of 766
Test runs at 127.66 during England's victorious 2010/11 Ashes tour -- indeed he
averages under 28 in all other series against Australia -- so he believes
Johnson will find it hard to replicate his haul of wickets.
"Mitchell had the series of a lifetime (in 2013/14), pretty similar to
what happened in 2010/11 with my form," Cook said on the eve of the first
"You get on a bit of a roll and you can't do no wrong. Credit when it's
due, he bowled very well and bowled quickly.
"Whether he can repeat that, that's the challenge and we've got to make
sure we cope with it better if he does."
Cook, taking up a theme voiced by England paceman Stuart Broad, also
suggested conditions in Britain would work in England's favour when it came to
"Obviously, the pace and bounce in these wickets aren't as much (as
Australia)," he said.
With several members of England's squad yet to play a Test against Australia
and leg-spinner Adil Rashid still to make a debut at this level, Cook said an
injection of youthful verve would serve his side well in their quest to regain
"That side at the end of 2013/14 was right at the end of its life cycle
I suppose," he said. "A lot of players have gone from that side that
were kind of hanging on.
"In this side we've got two or three slightly older statesmen I suppose
you could call them, with 80 plus caps, and the majority of the side is under
15 caps and are really excited about their future," explained the
30-year-old Cook, himself a veteran of 114 Tests.
"They've got the chance to create their own history," said Cook,
England's all-time leading Test run-scorer.
Australia parachuted Darren Lehmann into the position of coach after Mickey
Arthur was sacked shortly before the 2013 Ashes in England.
Although Australia lost that series, they've have enjoyed plenty of success
under former Test batsman Lehmann since then, including winning this year's
Now England find themselves preparing for a first series under a new
Australian coach in Trevor Bayliss, formerly in charge of Sri Lanka and New
"There is no nonsense to him. He says what he thinks and we've only
known him a week but he's pretty simple in his approach he's made that
clear," said Cook of Bayliss.
"Obviously, he's got some good knowledge of the Australians from
working with them over the last few years. That's going to help us but at the
end of the day it's the 11 players that have got to do it."
But Cook, who added the fact that England assistant coach Paul Farbrace, who
stood in as caretaker after Peter Moores was sacked, had worked with Bayliss
before in Sri Lanka had helped smooth the transition between regimes.
But he insisted he still had a major role in the running of the side.
"That hasn't really been too different. The captain does get a big
say," Cook said.