| Jubilant England players after beating Australia, at Old Trafford, on Tuesday |
Manchester: Alastair Cook’s England are on a near-record winning run in one-day Internationals but the side still need to improve if they are to win tournaments, said the captain.
After Tuesday’s eight-wicket success against Australia at Old Trafford made it 10 victories on the trot, completed a 4-0 NatWest Series rout of the old enemy and took England up to third in the world rankings, Cook made it clear this must be merely the beginning of their upward curve.
Cook (58) and Ravi Bopara (52 not out) shared a stand of 92 to all but see England home together under lights, chasing a Duckworth-Lewis target of 138 in a rain-shortened match.
The margin of victory was seven wickets, with 11 balls to spare, after world No. 1s Australia had been restricted to 145 for seven in 32 overs.
Cook was naturally full of praise for his team, but did not miss the opportunity to point out bigger ambitions lie ahead. “We hope we’re heading in the right direction. Clearly we are, with the group of players we’ve got,” he said.
“If we want to win tournaments, we have to be playing as well as we are now in the week when we enter those tournaments. That will be the aim. We’re desperate to keep building on this, expanding our skills so that we get better as a side.”
Cook’s team need to keep winning if they are to add 50-over supremacy to the International Cricket Council top rankings they have established in the Test and Twenty20 formats.
Then next year, they have the chance to beat the world on home ground — in the Champions Trophy tournament, which will precede a rematch with Australia in the Ashes.
Cook did allow himself a moment of satisfaction at a job well-done this summer, as England added victory over Michael Clarke’s tourists to a similarly emphatic one against West Indies.
“It feels good, great to win the series,” said Cook. “It’s been a brilliant effort from the lads. We’ve never let up, throughout the four games we’ve played. We’ve always been at Australia, and always tried to put them under some pressure.”
Ian Bell finished as England’s top runscorer, having replaced Kevin Pietersen as Cook's opening partner following the South Africa-born batsman’s shock limited-overs retirement last month.
Bell was modest about his achievements, though, insisting England’s bowlers were a key factor too.
Cook’s opposite number Clarke also believes the bowlers were perhaps England’s most telling resource.
“There are a lot of good teams at the moment,” he said. “But I think England’s bowling attack is as good as there is in the world.
“I certainly didn’t expect to lose 0-4… that’s for sure. We need to play better cricket. We need to sit down as a team and have a look at our performances over the last 12 months and areas we need to get better,” he added. “It certainly wasn’t about preparation. I thought our training was outstanding and we played some really good cricket in the couple of warm-up games but we have no excuses,” Clarke insisted.