This will be the first time that Alastair Cook will captain England against Australia when the 5-ODI Natwest series starts today, and he is relishing the chance to go toe-to-toe with the #1 ranked ODI team..
The numerous clashes between these two countries over the years have built this strong aura around every fixture. It’s definitely something magical when they meet, given the huge history of their rivalry and the millions of fans will definitely have something to look forward to.
Cook, an opener for Essex, has faced the Aussies many times, most recently in the warm-up match when he played for Essex. Australia beat the English county by 179 runs. But captaining an entire side against them will be something else.
“When I was a young boy watching the cricket on TV when Australia came over I loved the rivalry," said Cook.
“Now, to have played in some Ashes series and captaining the side is really exciting. The public do enjoy it, don't they? Lord's is sold out tomorrow so it's going to be good.”
Australia, who will be led by Michael Clarke, can be knocked off the #1 spot in ODIs if England can somehow manage a 5-0 whitewash. But Cook isn’t about to make any bold predictions yet.
“They're a very good side and they've proved that over a number of years. That's why they're at the top of the rankings,” he added.
“We're going to have to be at our absolute best to try to win the series. It would be an amazing achievement (to get to number one) but I don't want to be quoted saying stuff which gets blown out of proportion.
“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. We're going alright, we've done well at home and we're used to our conditions. Hopefully we can use that as an advantage.”
Their current home form, which has helped them get 6 consecutive series on English soil will be the X-factor. This home advantage recently took them past the West Indies quite easily and Cook wants his team to build on that during the series.
“When we go over to those, we find it a lot harder and we have to make it as hard as the opposition do when they come over here. Clearly, England, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa have quite similar conditions as well. Sub-continental conditions are different.
“I don't see home advantage being as big in this series as they would be for a sub-continental team. We're used to the slope at Lord's, like when we go to Perth or Melbourne they are more familiar in those conditions. But I do believe we play well at home and I'd love that to continue,” he was quoted saying.
Cook also spoke about the warm-up match where he played for Essex against the Aussies. The resounding 179-run loss Essex suffered shows just how well prepared Australia are and the kind of effect their new bowlers are having.
“They are a very good team. They beat us well and clearly I'd have liked to have spent a bit more time in the middle to look at their bowlers. That didn't happen. If you do score runs in that it doesn't count for anything. You start on zero next time,” he added.
Ultimately though, when asked if there was anything he would like more than getting the #1 ODI spot after the series, he quickly replied “I would take the World Cup.”