Cook still up for the challenge

Blackpool Citizen: Alastair Cook is not giving up on the Ashes Alastair Cook is not giving up on the Ashes

The troubles of Ashes captaincy have given Alastair Cook some wakeful moments already this winter - but he is still keeping the stress levels under control.

Cook must somehow find a way to lead his team back into contention, in his own 100th Test at the WACA on Friday, having lost the first two matches by a landslide.

No team has fought back to win the Ashes from 2-0 down since Australia did so, for the one and only time to date, almost 80 years ago.

Cook does not seek to diminish the truth that he has plenty on his plate to try to overturn so much history, and does not deny sleep patterns might have been disturbed to a degree as he works out how to deal with Mitchell Johnson et al.

"I don't pace the corridor," he said, however.

"It's quite nice lying in your pit, thinking 'I don't have to get up'.

"They are the moments when you aren't thinking 'it's just a game'.

"It's hurting so much and it's such a disappointment to you."

It is in Cook's own hands, at least, to try to win a fourth successive Ashes series after all - even from 2-0 down with three to play.

In that critical position, he admits his own 100th Test cap has become something of an afterthought.

"It's of little relevance now, because it's about trying to turn this around.

"It's a nice little milestone to have personally, but the big picture is about trying to get a better performance out of ourselves."

Johnson has been England's biggest issue so far, routing them in two collapses in Brisbane and then Adelaide and having taken 17 wickets in the series already.

They must therefore somehow limit the damage at least, and Cook is encouraged by Joe Root and Kevin Pietersen's century stand in the second innings in Adelaide.

"That is a challenge for us," he said.

"That little glimpse of the way Rootie and Kev played in that partnership shows what we can do. I think he only got one for 80 in that last innings."

There have been other pressing areas of concern too, of course, as England have so evidently failed to consolidate the superiority of their 3-0 Ashes victory at home last summer.

Cook insists, nonetheless, he is bearing up.

"It has been a challenging few weeks and it's kind of do or die in this series," he said.

"(But) I feel all right.

"When things don't go well as a captain, it's a tough, tough place to be.

"But I am still looking forward to the fight and still wanting to get out there - which I think is a good sign.

"(I am still) desperate to try to use all my experience and knowledge as a young leader to try to turn this around."

Cook's own poor form has been part of the problem, especially falling twice cheaply to Johnson in Adelaide - for just a single, after mis-hooking to fine leg, in the second innings.

"Shot selection has let us down at times in this series," he said.

"We have fallen into traps we shouldn't have fallen into.

"You wish sometimes when you are walking off that you had your shot again."

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