England captain Cook will accept Ashes ‘war’ on the pitch

First Test ends in acrimony after Australia win by 381 runs

Australian captain  Michael Clarke exchanges words with England’s   James Anderson during  day four of the First Ashes Test  at The Gabba in Brisbane. Photograph: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Australian captain Michael Clarke exchanges words with England’s James Anderson during day four of the First Ashes Test at The Gabba in Brisbane. Photograph: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

 

England captain Alastair Cook is prepared to accept “war” on the field during the Ashes series, but accused Australian batsman David Warner of crossing the line in questioning Jonathan Trott’s stomach for the fight in an acrimonious end to the first Test in Brisbane which the home side won by a crushing 381-run margin.

Cook refused the opportunity to criticise his opposite number Michael Clarke for his part in an angry exchange with Jimmy Anderson in which the Australia captain could be heard through Channel Nine’s stump microphone appearing to tell England’s No 11 to “get ready for a f***ing broken arm”.

“On the pitch it’s pretty much a war, isn’t it?” said the England captain, agreeing that arranging back-to-back Ashes series was asking for trouble in that regard. “There are always going to be a few words, and I think that’s pretty much how people want to watch cricket being played.”

However when asked about Warner’s description of Trott’s second-innings dismissal by Mitchell Johnson as “pretty poor and pretty weak”, Cook said: “I think the comment by David Warner was pretty disrespectful to any professional cricketer really.”

There have been suggestions that Warner could be punished under the International Cricket Council’s code of conduct, but that would seem unlikely, and Australia are clearly determined to keep up the attack.

Even before their vice-captain Brad Haddin had left the field, he told the former Test opener turned television commentator Michael Slater that Johnson had “seen in their eyes they weren’t confident facing him”.

When Johnson was asked afterwards whether he had seen fear in Trott’s eyes, there was confirmation that England’s No 3 has now become a target in Australia. “Do you want me to answer that?” Clarke said as Johnson hesitated. When the man of the match finally answered, he said: “I dunno. There were a couple of nice ones that were zinging past his nose where there might have been a little bit of fear there.”

Asked again whether he had seen fear in Trott’s eyes, Johnson smiled and said nothing. “Good answer, Mitchy, good boy,” added Clarke, to general hilarity. For Trott, this is deadly serious.

Cook had admitted: “He’s had a tough game, he knows that. But you have to remember the guy is class. He’s had a little blip in these last couple of games but he’s a class player and class players bounce back. I know he’s been working incredibly hard at it and anyone who has seen the net sessions can see he is trying to work on it.

“It is just a matter of him trying to take that into the middle. When the emotion and the pressure of the game is on, it can be quite tough to think as clearly as you need to.”

Cook insisted England’s problems – against Johnson and more generally – are collective rather than specific to Trott. “We’ve got to look at the way we’re going to play him,” he added. “He’s bowled well in this Test match, I remember last time he bowled well in Perth and he hurt us there and there’s been times in the past when we’ve played really well against him.

“We can draw on that and we are going to have to be very honest with ourselves in how we go about trying to play him. You can’t brush the issue under the carpet, he’s hurt us in this game and we’re going to have to come back show our ability in the next game.

“This 10 days’ break [before the second Test in Adelaide] will be good for us. It’ll give us time to get away from it and really work on what we need to do to improve. We all need to be honest with each other as a group. It’s not just those three who haven’t had a good game – all 11 of us really need to improve if we want to win this series.”

Australia have named an unchanged 12-man squad for Adelaide.

(Guardian Service)

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