COOKIE’S BEEN AL OF A LEADER Su­per skip­per was key to Ashes win, says Eng­land coach Flower

Midweek Sport - - SPORT - By BOB FLEM­ING

STU­ART BROAD may have been the fourth Test hero, but Eng­land’s Ashes suc­cess is all down to cap­tain fan­tas­tic Alas­tair Cook.

That’s the view of coach Andy Flower, who reck­ons any­one still crit­i­cis­ing Cook must be CRAZY.

Cook has en­joyed some land­mark suc­cesses since in­her­it­ing the role from An­drew Strauss last year, over­see­ing a se­ries win in In­dia be­fore Christ­mas and now tak­ing his side to a 3-0 score­line over the old en­emy with one Test still to play.

De­spite that, he has been knocked in some quar­ters for be­ing overly cau­tious and has seen his field plac­ings and dec­la­ra­tion de­ci­sions de­bated in the com­men­tary box.

But Flower reck­ons the Ashes se­ries could have been very dif­fer­ent if not for the mas­sive part played by Cook.

Eng­land moved into an unas­sail­able lead thanks as Broad de­stroyed the Aussie bats­men in a scin­til­lat­ing fi­nal ses­sion on day four at Durham.

But Flower was quick to praise Cook, not least for the de­ci­sion to restore Tim Bres­nan to the at­tack at a piv­otal point of the game.

Re­silient

The York­shire­man took the key wicket of the danger­ous David Warner to swing the match in Eng­land’s favour.

Flower said: “It was nice be­ing part of that af­ter­noon ses­sion where Broad and Cook turned things around for us.

“Cook’s cap­taincy has been ex­cel­lent. He’s been strong in the dress­ing room and out in the field.

“He made some de­ci­sions that turned the game – bring­ing on Bres­nan, who got Warner straight away.

“He’s been ma­ligned in some ar­eas, I’ve heard. I’m not sure what is said off the field but we judge our­selves by our own stan­dards.

“As a Test cap­tain he is still a young man but he has led the side bril­liantly.

“He’s a strong leader and he’s made some re­ally good de­ci­sions in this se­ries.

“I don’t think we’ve played our best cricket, but what we have done is been re­silient and held our­selves well in pres­sure sit­u­a­tions.

“Broad was out­stand­ing at Durham. He showed real flair and com­pet­i­tive­ness, nous and heart.

“They are great qual­i­ties that re­side in some of th­ese very fine play­ers.”

With the se­ries wrapped up, it has been sug­gested Eng­land may take the op­por­tu­nity to ro­tate their squad for the fi­nal match, with Sur­rey seamer Chris Trem­lett in con­tention for an ap­pear­ance at his home ground.

Ei­ther way, Flower is sure there won’t be whole­sale changes.

“We’ll meet over the next cou­ple of days and talk about a side for the fifth Test, but I can’t see us chang­ing much,” he said.

“We’re still rep­re­sent­ing our coun­try, it’s still an Ashes Test and we’re still de­ter­mined to win it.”

ASHES HERO: Coach Andy Flower in­sists Alas­tair Cook has been the dif­fer­ence

be­tween the teams

SU­PER STU: Broad bat­tered the Aussies at

Durham

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