Cook: 'We're not worried by Johnson. Hussey was the difference in Perth'

The superb batting of Mike Hussey rather than the left-arm swing-bowling of a reinvigorated Mitchell Johnson was the major difference between England and Australia in last week's third Test match, and getting Hussey out will be England's priority in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, according to Alastair Cook.

"We're not losing too much sleep over Mitchell Johnson," England's opening batsman told The Independent yesterday. "He's a good bowler and he's allowed to bowl well, as he did at Perth. But there have been plenty of other times in the past – at Lord's, at Brisbane – when we've dominated him. For me, Hussey's runs were the biggest difference between the two sides at Perth. He's been in exceptional form, and for Melbourne we've changed our plans for him a little bit."

Cook, with a brilliant double-century in the second innings at Brisbane, and a further century at Adelaide, could with an aggregate of 495 runs safely expect to be the leading scorer three Tests into this Ashes series. Yet he is pipped by Hussey, who has hit 517 runs so far, and whose second-innings knock of 116 in Perth exceeded those of all the England batsmen combined. Only with the help of nine extras did they limp to a second-innings total of 123 all out.

"People have to be realistic," said Cook, when asked how England's towering performance at the Adelaide Oval could be followed by such a feeble display at the Waca. "Everyone was saying before Perth that the Australians don't have particularly good bowlers, but that's not giving us due credit for how well we'd batted. Of course they have good bowlers. For us, our bigger challenge, to get to the next level, is consistency. Ultimately our aim is to be the best side in the world, and the massive thing we need to work on is consistency."

More immediately, the challenge is to beat an Australian team re-energised by the 267-run victory at Perth. "But if at the beginning of the tour you'd offered us 1-1 coming to Melbourne, we probably would have taken it," said Cook. "Perth has gone. We didn't play very well but there's nothing we can do about that now. It was important to discuss it, which we did a couple of hours afterwards back at the hotel, but now we move forward. The most important thing is how we react."

Cook, speaking from his hotel room in Melbourne and about to go for dinner with Matt Prior and Prior's wife Emily, to celebrate her birthday, insisted that a few cricket-free days since Perth had got the drubbing out of the collective system. "It's been an intense tour and it's been great to relax," he said.

That intensity has been evident not least in some fairly lively confrontations both on and off the field, but Cook denies that the sledging has been out of the ordinary. "Look, both sides are desperate to win. It's great for the game to see those clashes, because it shows how competitive we both are. It hasn't gone over the top. Personally I tend not to rise to the bait, but if you're opening the batting for England you expect some hassle, whichever country you're playing." A packed Melbourne Cricket Ground won't do anything to diminish the ferocity of competition, he added. "It's not my favourite ground. I love Adelaide, but to me the MCG doesn't feel like a proper cricket ground. Saying that, it's an amazing stadium, and any time you get a chance to play cricket in front of 100,000 people, you've got to enjoy it."

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

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years