ENGLAND captain Alastair Cook remains determined to oversee a 4-0 Ashes series victory over Australia by winning the final Test at the Oval this week.
With the series already wrapped up, there could be room for players to ease down when the fifth Test starts in south London today with the idea of rotating the team also suggested. But Cook wants to seal a memorable first Ashes series as captain by taking another win and with the best players available named in the side.
“I think it would be very special to win the Ashes 4-0,” he said. “That is what our motivation is as a side and we are hopefully going to pick the right side – the side that we think can win this Test match. Training has been good the last couple of days and we haven’t done anything different, [treating the match] as if it were 1-1 in the series and that was our aim for this week.
“We don’t need any more motivation – that is enough for us. To win a Test match for England is big enough motivation and we have a lot of record-breakers in this team. Every time you beat Australia it is a good feeling.”
With back-to-back Ashes series, England could head Down Under in the winter having scored a psychological blow over Australia by taking a comprehensive 4-0 win this time around.
“It will be one of those strange things,” Cook added. “When we get to Australia we will be saying ‘what is gone is gone’ and it won’t make any difference during that first hour in Brisbane.
“But sitting here now, as a side, those little things can make a difference and, if we can keep putting Australia under pressure in certain areas of their play, then we know that will count well when we go down to Australia. If we can continue winning games of cricket, then that is all we can do.”
James Faulkner is set to make his Test and Ashes debut for Australia after captain Michael Clarke announced two changes for the fifth Test.
The 23-year-old all-rounder joins the team alongside Mitchell Starc, as they replace Jackson Bird and Usman Khawaja.
Clarke told a press conference: “Jackson Bird is out and Usman Khawaja is out. So Mitchell Starc comes in and James Faulkner makes his debut.”
Despite having already lost the five-match series as they trail 3-0 following England’s 74-run win at Chester-le-Street last week, Clarke is confident he can lead his side to victory in final Test which starts on Wednesday.
He added: “Our goal hasn’t changed. We try to win every Test match we play and this Test is no different. Yes there’s a number of reasons we have to have success in this Test match but the main reason is every Test you play for Australia you want to win. We don’t need any extra motivation than that.
“[A win] would certainly be a nice way to finish the Test side of the tour. We’ve obviously got some t20s and one-dayers afterwards that are crucial for us, but it would be a nice way to finish. I think by simply understanding who we are in this series we still have a lot to gain. We don’t need extra motivation.”
With the Ashes series Down Under coming up later this year, Clarke hopes he can lead Australia to victory in this final Test with a good performance at the Oval.
He said: “The fact we’ve got a lot of cricket to play against England the next 12 months is extra motivation, but we need to go out and perform like we did in Manchester. We need to show a lot of people – but ourselves as well – that, if we continue to play that style and brand of cricket, we can beat any team in the world in any conditions.”
Regarding the decision to leave out Bird and Khawaja for the Oval Test, Clarke added: “I think you have to perform as a player. If you don’t there’s a chance you could be dropped.
“That’s the life we live, playing sport at the highest level. If you don’t perform consistently, there’s a chance you’ll get dropped.”