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Donald McRae speaks to Alastair Cook about his transformation from a phase where his place in the side was in question just earlier in the year to leading England's charge in the Ashes Down Order. Read more in the Guardian.
Strauss was his most passionate defender – even when he failed twice in the tour's first warm-up match. Cook regained his rhythm, hitting a century against South Australia, but on the morning of the first Test he was more nervous than he'd ever been. "I'd begun to find a bit of form and I was desperate to have an impact on the series – because I'd failed in my two previous Ashes. That's why I was so nervous."
He endured a lonely moment in the first over at The Gabba when, at the non-striker's end, he watched Strauss offer a simple catch off the third ball of the series. "I just stood there and the noise was incredible. I looked down and thought, 'Right, we really need to get something going here.' It was hard. But Trotty [Jonathan Trott] came out and he's a very simple bloke when it comes to batting. He's got all his mannerisms but he likes us to have a little target – which might be scoring the next five or 10 runs. We used that to get through the first few overs that morning, especially when the noise was so intense. Trotty showed no fear."
Stephen Brenkely, in the Independent, wonders if the arrival of England cricketers' wives and girlfriends could hurt their Ashes hopes.
Perhaps it should not be a contentious issue. Most men (and women) go to work and then go home to the families in the evening. It is dissimilar, of course, for at least two reasons: sport is sport with the team thing being of obvious significance, and while the families might be here on holiday their blokes most definitely are here to work.
WAGs first came to prominence as an entity during the football World Cup in Germany in 2006 when they operated as a perfumed invading army. But they have been around in cricket for much longer. On the 1995 tour of South Africa when they arrived en masse for the Cape Town Test, the England manager Ray Illingworth observed that the team room had come to resemble a crèche.