Alastair Cook rates England’s chances of beating Australia in summer Ashes

Alastair Cook captained England in 59 Test matches (Picture: Getty)

Sir Alastair Cook says England’s new thrilling approach can ‘absolutely’ secure Ashes glory against Australia this summer.

England’s vibrant style of play – fondly nicknamed ‘Bazball’ in tribute to head coach Brendon McCullum – has already overcome New Zealand, South Africa and Pakistan.

Ben Stokes’ side will look to continue their momentum this summer when Australia defend the Ashes on English soil.

Australia won the last Ashes series 4-0 but England are a different proposition under Stokes and McCullum, who partnered up following Joe Root’s resignation last April.

Four-time Ashes winner Cook, who captained England in 59 Tests, told the Daily Mirror: ‘Can Bazball work this summer? Absolutely, I think they can win.

‘Every side who’s come across England have said, “Ah, they won’t do it against our bowlers, they won’t do it in these conditions” – and they have done it.

‘So just because it’s the Ashes, and we are going up against a very good bowling attack, doesn’t mean they can’t do it.

England have flourished under Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum (Picture: Getty)

‘It’s just like they did against that India attack or Pakistan attack – they are going to play that way, and actually it’s very confrontational as an opposition captain because if they do it well and do it at the right times, you don’t know when it’s coming.

‘That’s the great thing about it – it’s not every ball, hacking at it or whatever. It’s just at certain times they take that initiative.

‘If you are skilful enough and good enough at that level, and clear enough in your mind to do it at the right time, it’s a very tough thing to captain against because suddenly, in half an hour or 40 minutes of a Jonny Bairstow burst like we saw at Trent Bridge (against New Zealand), the momentum has shifted.

‘That’s what is so powerful about this way of playing. Talking about it is very different to doing it, but they have delivered so far.’

In Stokes and McCullum’s first series in charge, England thumped New Zealand 3-0, chasing 277, 299 and 296 with a brand of cricket rarely seen in the Test game.

England then nonchalantly completed a record chase of 378 to beat India in the postponed fifth Test, before finishing the home summer with a 2-1 win over South Africa.

The team’s success continued over the winter when England completed a historic 3-0 clean sweep over Pakistan, who were stunned by the tourists’ aggression with bat and ball.

Australia have also enjoyed their fair share of success over the past 12 months, thumping West Indies and South Africa at home before losing 2-1 to India in a series that was closer than many had expected.

Pat Cummins’ side will hope Steve Smith has another prolific Ashes series – only four players have scored more Ashes runs than the 33-year-old, who has 11 centuries and 11 fifties in 56 innings against England.

Steve Smith boasts a sensational Ashes record (Picture: Getty)

Smith will warm up for this summer’s Ashes with a stint at Sussex in the County Championship, but Cook does not expect his spell on the south coast to have much of an impact against England.

The former captain added: ‘It’s tough isn’t it? Steve Smith’s going to score runs no matter what really, isn’t he?

‘You would say a bloke averaging 50 and has a good record in England is going to come good at some stage.

‘I saw Paul Farbrace, director of cricket at Sussex, saying it’s great for the county game and great for these bowlers to face Steve Smith. I’m sure that’s fairly one-eyed as he’s got him to hopefully score runs for his team.

‘But if you score a couple of hundreds leading up to the Ashes, how much relevance does that actually have? You still start on nought on day one at Edgbaston in a couple of months.’

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