Cook: It's a fresh start

The Bolton News: Alastair Cook is ready to get back into England action after questioning his future as captain Alastair Cook is ready to get back into England action after questioning his future as captain

Alastair Cook must take a bold step into unknown territory as his England team try to mark a new era by putting distance between themselves and their winter of discontent.

Cook admits his own first foray to Aberdeen and a one-day international assignment against Scotland under his and returning coach Peter Moores' guidance represents a "banana-skin fixture".

Weather permitting, anything but a clear-cut victory will give the sceptics early ammunition as judgements begin to be made about a nascent regime with issues to address following England's 5-0 Ashes drubbing and then a hapless defeat to Holland in the final match of their failed ICC World Twenty20 campaign.

Moores was involved in neither - having succeeded Andy Flower in the head-coach role and Ashley Giles in charge of England's limited-overs teams - and Cook too was absent for the Dutch debacle in Chittagong.

The opening salvo in the summer schedule, at international cricket's most northerly venue on Friday, comes in the intermediate format - and the only one in which England managed a series victory in 2013/14.

Cook is aware of the danger from hosts who will lack nothing in motivation, and little in skill either, but is encouraged by what he has seen so far from a familiar squad featuring only one uncapped player.

"It feels like a fresh start, which happens when you have a new coach and some new players," said the captain.

"It has does have that vibe, and it's a good place to be.

"We haven't been tested under pressure yet, but over the next 24 hours we will be."

Cook was a mere substitute fielder when, in Moores' initial tenure, England's match against Scotland was rained off in Edinburgh six years ago - and he was not involved at all for a routine victory at the same venue in 2010.

Leading a team this time containing a maximum of just two survivors from that success, he knows of course England should win.

"If we play well, we will be very hard to beat," Cook said.

"But it is a banana-skin fixture - and if a couple of their guys have good days, they can put us under pressure.

"Of course, it is new territory and things will take time to settle down. But things have gone well so far."

Cook does not expect any hangover from England's most recent travails in Bangladesh.

"In that game they didn't turn up, did they?" he said.

"I'm sure the guys who went through that experience won't want to go through that again. We've got to back our ability."

He acknowledges nonetheless that Scotland are able opponents with much to prove.

"They are in a great position; they have nothing to lose and they've got some talent. So they'll come out giving it their all," Cook added.

"We won't be under-estimating them."

If England have learned a lesson from their hugely disappointing and chastening winter and a messy aftermath which has brought much change, it is a renewed recognition that they must never take the positions they have earned for granted.

"You have to remember how lucky we are to wear the shirt and play for our country," said Cook.

"Sometimes after a long period away, you are away from home and have done it for a while, you maybe forget that.

"Last winter is probably a reminder of that.

"When you lose games of cricket it becomes very hard to do.

"We've all had bit of time away from the game, a good time to reflect and realise how special it is to be playing for England.

"We have to remember that at all times, and a certain responsibility comes with that."

When the success of Flower's regime suddenly started to evaporate, one of the charges increasingly levelled from afar was that the fun had also gone out of England's cricket team.

Cook is not about to publicly rubber-stamp that theory, but does agree that his side needs to play with a smile on its face whenever possible.

"Enjoyment has to be up there," he added.

"Chatting to a few of the guys who are no longer playing, they say it's the best days of your life - even in tough times."

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree