Ashes 2013: Alastair Cook's England can bank on experience for hat-trick

Comparison between the two sides shows that England should have the batting strength to win a third series in a row

Trent Bridge

The captain of Australia said it for everybody. "We've spoken about a lot but I think the talking is done for us as a team now." The captain of England was not far behind. "There is excitement and a few nerves floating around – I think those are the two favourite words that are going to be used come tomorrow morning – nerves and excitement."

And there it was for Michael Clarke and Alastair Cook in the Long Room at Trent Bridge. Test cricket is the acme of the sport but within that the Ashes holds a special place because it was the first of all international contests. It is, 131 years later, still what every kid from both countries who has ever held a bat wants to take part in.

This is a particularly special moment because the match is the first of 10 to be played in the next seven months. Whichever side loses this series in England will have an immediate chance to recapture the Ashes in Australia starting in November.

In some eyes, this may all be too much of a good thing but the manner in which Clarke and Cook presented their cases emphasised how significantly deep the Ashes runs in the psyches of both countries. If it is to continue to have such meaning it is probably important that the terracotta urn that is the object of all the fuss (which may or may not contain the original ashes of a burnt bail) changes hands from time to time.

Now, it must be said, is not that time for England. They may have won three of the last four series, including the last two, but that hardly constitutes the sort of monopoly that Australia were operating in winning eight consecutive series between 1989 and 2005. When 2005 came round it was definitely the appropriate moment for England to win because there was the suspicion that Australia were becoming fed up, if not complacent.

It has been natural to talk this series up but England will never have a more substantial opportunity of winning three Ashes series in a row. The last time they managed that was in 1981.

Any man-for-man reckoning of the teams brings England out on top. They are more experienced, more accomplished and wiser. Australia, for all their protestations, are living in the shadow cast by their legendary forebears.

The composition of the teams, while not confirmed, will certainly show an immense disparity in Tests played. England could have a total of 611 caps with almost 100 Ashes matches between them, Australia may have a team with 299 Test appearances with 52 in the Ashes. Crucially, nine of England's players have featured in the Ashes before, six of Australia's will not have.

Everybody has to start somewhere – as the Yorkshiremen Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow will testify – but Australia seem to be too vulnerable in too many areas to resist England for an entire series. Australia's bowling is much their stronger suit and while that may also be true of England, there is not much in it.

England's top six have 81 Test hundreds between them and five have scored at least one century in the Ashes. Australia's top six have made a combined total of 35 Test hundreds, but only Clarke and Brad Haddin have scored centuries against England.

If Australia's bowlers, especially the fearsome James Pattinson, brother of a man (Darren) who once played for England, are capable of toppling the cream of England then that is also patently true of England's bowlers in regards to Australia's batting line-up. England's probable quartet of bowlers has taken 812 Test wickets, Australia's likely foursome has 296.

The Americans have a saying: "Do the math." It goes well beyond that of course and as Cook was at pains to point out it was still important not to get it out of proportion. He said: "You have to keep yourself very true to what you are and remember that it's another game of cricket and that this is what we have been doing all our lives."

But he knows that this is the Ashes. It simply does not come bigger. He spoke of people approaching him in the street to wish him well which simply does not happen with other Test series. The last Ashes, when he scored 766 runs, changed his life.

"I think you are remembered for your Ashes performance," he said. "What happened in 2010-11 did change me as a cricketer, gave me a lot of confidence that I could perform at the highest level against a very good side. I think it can change lives and careers and luckily I've managed to kick on from that moment and I see no reason why that can't continue.

"In eight weeks' time, I'd love to be sitting at The Oval having won the Ashes. That's the ultimate aim as an English captain. You join a very elite band of cricketers who could say that."

By the end of the Oval Test in late August he could be saying it to the tune of at least 3-1.

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album