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Sport

Captain Cook targets Ashes-clinching win for England

England's Joe Root celebrates scoring the winning run during day three of the Third Investec Ashes Test at Edgbaston on Friday
Picture: PA
Rory Dollard

ENGLAND captain Alastair Cook set his sights on regaining the Ashes at Trent Bridge after brushing aside Australia inside three days to take a 2-1 series lead.

The home side wrapped up a memorable eight-wicket victory in front of a febrile Edgbaston crowd, with seven sessions of the match remaining. Ian Bell led the way, his unbeaten 65 seeing England past their 121-run target and completing a remarkable turnaround following Australia's crushing win at Lord's.

A repeat performance in Nottingham - hardly a given with England's recent habit of following up victories with defeats - would see Cook get his hands on the urn and banish memories of the 2013-14 whitewash down under.

"We've had a really good three days here, we'll enjoy the night as a group and come tomorrow, maybe with a little bit of a dusty head, we'll look forward to Trent Bridge," he said.

"If it doesn't happen there let's do it at The Oval, we've got two opportunities, but we'd love to do it at the first opportunity...that would be something very, very special after what this side has been through in the last few years."

Cook had spoken before the match about the galvanising effect that the raucous fans in Birmingham could have on his team and he was not disappointed.

"This was up there with the loudest I can remember," Cook offered.

"At certain moments, when Steven Finn got two [wickets] in two balls [on day two], it was particularly loud and some of the chants...even guys who've played a fair bit of cricket were looking at each other realising how special it was.

"We're very short lived wearing the England cap and playing for England and those moments don't come around very often. Edgbaston has been a fantastic venue for us as a side and the challenge is can Trent Bridge be louder?"

Asked about England's up-and-down nature in recent times - their last seven Test results read win, loss, win, loss, win, loss, win - Cook declared himself happy for the sequence to last until the end of the series, enough for a 3-2 triumph at The Oval, but admitted the inconsistency must be addressed.

"If [the pattern] goes to nine matches I will be just as happy but it would be nice to break that trend at Trent Bridge," he said.

"Discussions over a beer tonight will be on that line, but we have to enjoy the performance here first. Come tomorrow morning we wake up with the challenge of Trent Bridge ahead of us. We have got to be tough on ourselves as players and get ourselves absolutely spot on for that game."

Cook also tipped his hat in Bell's direction, praising the deft way in which he dealt with his promotion to number three. The Warwickshire batsman hit half-centuries in both innings, top-scoring in a bowler-dominated match, to make light of questions over his place in the side.

"It couldn't be more fitting could it, for Belly to be walking off 60-odd not out in his home Test match to win the game," said Cook.

"We know he's a fine player but he's had a bit of a tough time...it happens. Everyone in history has a bit of a tough time. You've got to keep backing the right horse and Ian Bell is certainly the right horse.

"He's absolutely class and it was a pleasure to see him knock off those runs."

Bell admitted a former England captain had berated him for the soft manner of his first innings dismissal but was delighted with the way the game finished.

"With how I got out in the first innings - Geoffrey Boycott told me this morning how bad a shot that was! I wanted to be there at the end," Bell said.

"I hope that's the start of me getting back in form.

"It was a tough week after Lord's, Australia showed after Cardiff the way to bounce back and we've done that." 

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