Whitewash Aussies and England move to No 1...

...which amazes even captain Cook ahead of series which starts today at Lord's

Alastair Cook rapped out a warning to cricket yesterday as he contemplated leading the world's best one-day side. All England have to do to reach the summit and thus be ranked No 1 in all formats of the game is beat Australia 5-0 in the series which starts at Lord's today, and Cook was in no doubt that his side have what it takes.

True, it was necessary to read between the lines to some degree as he pondered the notion. But presumably that is what he meant when he said: "It would be an amazing achievement but I don't want to be quoted saying stuff which gets blown out of proportion.

"We're going to have to be at our absolute best to try to win the series. We are very much a developing one-day side and we're desperate to keep going up the rankings. But let's not get too carried away. We have got plenty of stuff to keep improving on, trying to get good results. Over the next 10 days we have a chance to do that."

Despite worries of overkill, the series appears to have caught the public imagination. Tickets have sold well and there is no sign at present, it seems, of the longest surviving international contest in sport losing its allure. In anybody's book, whatever its real pertinence, this is a precursor to the Ashes next summer.

Perhaps Cook, who looked like he had swallowed a fly, was as astounded as everybody else at England's potential climb up the rankings. But according to the International Cricket Council predictor, a clean sweep will see England leap from fourth to first.

It requires a leap of faith and imagination to think it may be possible, which is probably why Cook was so careful in declining to be drawn on the matter. England have beaten Australia 3-0 at home before and in 2010 led a three-match series 3-0 before losing the final two matches.

Under Cook's leadership they are making progress, having won their last six matches and their last six series at home. But it also has to be remembered that this is the side who were defeated 5-0 in India last autumn. Only the rankings, which contrive to make the Duckworth-Lewis System look as easy as 1-2-3, could suggest that England are the No 1 side.

For now that title belongs to Australia. Michael Clarke, who took over the captaincy permanently after the World Cup last year, has won 11 of his 18 games since then. They remain nobody's mugs. But this Australia are different. They are a young team trying to hang on to their status while in the process of being rebuilt. Of their probable XI at Lord's today, five have never toured England before. Clarke was as sober in his judgment as Cook. If the sides play with the reserve they talk, we could be heading for dullsville by the time the series is done.

Clarke said: "England are playing some really good cricket and they've had a lot of success in their own backyard so we know it's going to be really tough cricket and we're going to have to be at our best to compete with them. I guess it's been a little bit colder here these last few weeks than these young guys are accustomed to."

Poor lambs. What this really needed was Glenn McGrath to walk in from one wing and say that obviously Australia would win 5-0 and he was astounded that anyone could think otherwise, and Nasser Hussain from the other wing wearing his heart on his sleeve and saying Australia would at the least know they had been in a fight.

England's recent form, and pitches that continue to grant some movement, should give them the edge. Australia's bowling attack contains some bright young talents in Patrick Cummins at 19 and James Pattinson at 23 but they are still learning how to play the game in different places. England's attack is the real deal anywhere.

Three of the tourists stand out before a ball is bowled. Cummins has abundant amounts of that raw pace which has excited observers throughout history. In his only Test, he bowled out South Africa, and the air of expectancy surrounding him is undeniable. It would be marvellous to see him accompanied by Brett Lee, who has retained the speed and the lust for life which has always made him compelling viewing. David Warner at the top of the order has blazed a trail wherever he has gone since his transformation from being a club player two years ago. When he hits the ball it stays that way and he has defied most observers by taking his brand of batting into the Test arena and making it work. But he will never have experienced anything like the relentlessness of England's attack, and whatever they say about this not being a dress rehearsal, he can make Ashes points or lose them.

England may win, if not 5-0, though Cook, eventually, showed a rare moment of candour when asked if the World Cup was more important than the rankings. "I don't know. Actually I do know. If someone said do you want to be No 1 in the world or win the World Cup I would take the World Cup."

 



Lord's details: First One-Day International

England (probable): A N Cook (capt), I R Bell, I J L Trott, R S Bopara, E J G Morgan, C Kieswetter (wkt), T T Bresnan, S C J Broad, G P Swann, J M Anderson, S T Finn.

Australia (probable): M J Clarke (capt), S R Watson, D A Warner, G J Bailey, D J Hussey, S P D Smith, M S Wade (wkt), B Lee, C J McKay, P J Cummins, X J Doherty.

Umpires A Dar (Pak) & R Kettleborough (Eng)

TV Sky Sports 1, 10am-7pm; Highlights: Channel 5, 7-8pm.

Weather Dry and overcast all day, brighter later. Max temp: 19C.

Pitch report Drier than it probably has the right to be, much closer to the Mound Stand than the Grand Stand, with a short boundary going with the slope. But bowlers must still fancy their chances.

World rankings

Test

1 England 117pts; 2 South Africa 116; 3 Australia 112; 4 India 111; 5 Pakistan 108; 6 Sri Lanka 99.

One-Day International

1 Australia 123pts; 2 South Africa 118; 3 India 117; 4 England 112; 5 Sri Lanka 112; 6 Pakistan 103.

Twenty20

1 England 130pts; 2 South Africa 122; 3 Sri Lanka 115; 4 New Zealand 114; 5 Pakistan 108; 6 Australia 107.

VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
tv
News
Matthew Mcnulty and Jessica Brown Findlay in 'Jamaica Inn'
mediaHundreds complain over dialogue levels in period drama
News
peopleJay Z and Beyoncé to buy £5.5m London townhouse
Voices
voicesMoyes' tragedy is one the Deputy PM understands all too well, says Matthew Norman
Arts & Entertainment
Rocker of ages: Chuck Berry
musicWhy do musicians play into old age?
Arts & Entertainment
With Jo Joyner in 'Trying Again'
tvHe talks to Alice Jones on swapping politics for pillow talk
News
Jilly's jewels: gardener Alan Titchmarsh
peopleCountry Life magazine's list of 'gallant' public figures throws light on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world
Sport
John Terry goes down injured in the 70th minute
sportAtletico Madrid 0 Chelsea 0: Blues can finish the job at Stamford Bridge, but injuries to Terry and Cech are a concern for Mourinho
Student
student
News
<b>Rebecca Adlington</b>
<br />This, the first British swimmer to win two
Olympic gold medals in 100 years, is the eversmiling
face of the athletes who will, we're
confident, make us all proud at London 2012
peopleRebecca Adlington on 'nose surgery'
Arts & Entertainment
tvJudge for yourself
Life & Style
tech
News
Tough call: is the psychological distress Trott is suffering an illness? (Getty)
healthJonathan Trott and the problems of describing mental illness
Life & Style
23 April 2014: Google marks St George's Day with a drawing depicting England's patron saint slaying a fire-breathing dragon
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home

It's not always fun in the sun: Moving abroad does not guarantee happiness

Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home
Migrants in Britain a decade on: They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire

Migrants in Britain a decade on

They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire
Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

The 'Thick of It' favourite thinks the romcom is an 'awful genre'. So why is he happy with a starring role in Sky Living's new Lake District-set series 'Trying Again'?
Why musicians play into their old age

Why musicians play into their old age

Nick Hasted looks at how they are driven by a burning desire to keep on entertaining fans despite risking ridicule
How can you tell a gentleman?

How can you tell a gentleman?

A list of public figures with gallant attributes by Country Life magazine throws a fascinating light on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world
Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

The duo behind Asos and Achica have launched a new venture offering haute couture to help make furry companions fashionable
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire
Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

Celebrate St George’s Day with a nice cup of tea. Now you just need to get the water boiled
Sam Wallace: Why Giggs is perfect fit as Manchester United boss... in the longer term

Sam Wallace

Why Ryan Giggs is perfect fit as Manchester United boss... in the longer term
Renaud Lavillenie: The sky's the limit for this pole vaulter's ambitions

Renaud Lavillenie: The sky's the limit for this pole vaulter's ambitions

Having smashed Sergei Bubka's 21-year-old record, the French phenomenon tells Simon Turnbull he can go higher
Through the screen: British Pathé opens its archives

Through the screen

British Pathé opens its archives
The man behind the papier mâché mask

Frank Sidebottom

The man behind the papier mâché mask
Chris Marker: Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

Chris Marker retrospective is a revelation
Boston runs again: Thousands take to the streets for marathon as city honours dead and injured of last year's bombing

Boston runs again

Thousands of runners take to the streets as city honours dead of last year
40 years of fostering and still holding the babies (and with no plans to retire)

40 years of fostering and holding the babies

In their seventies and still working as specialist foster parents