Performance in warm-up games is irrelevant: Alastair Cook
"You're not going to be remembered for what happened in the warm-up games; you're going to be remembered for what happens in the actual tournament," says England captain when asked about Australia's capitulation for just 65 runs against India.
Obviously this is a great opportunity for England to win one of these events for the first time. I think it's also your first local tournament, isn't it? How big a deal does it feel to you?
Yeah, it is my first one. I'm really looking forward to the challenges of being in a world tournament. You get into a series, and you get to play against the same team three or five times. So this is very different in terms of having to play against a different team every day or every game you play and having to adjust your skills to the certain players straightaway. And you have to start pretty quickly in this tournament otherwise, you have three games to get to the group, you have to win definitely two of them. So it's going to be a tough tournament that way, but I think it's a great tournament because it's so quick.
Whether you like it or not, Alastair, it is the first of, I think, 26 internationals against Australia which you play between now and the beginning of February. Does it seem the beginning of something separating from the tournament?
To be honest with you, I don't think it does because the Champions Trophy is such an important event in itself, so, yeah, clearly playing Australia in the first game with the Ashes coming up everyone's going to talk about that, but I think both sides will be seeing it as needing to win to get the tournament off to a good start rather than anything else, which is later in the summer.
The fact that it is Australia it means a lot in terms of this competition. Does it mean anything for all that stuff that's going to come later on?
I don't think so what's going to come later on. You obviously want to start well against any team, but this tournament, as I just said, it's so quick. Three games against three quality sides straight up, and you've got to be on the ball straightaway. We're going to play against a tough Australian side tomorrow, and we want to win to get off to a good start.
How big a loss is Michael Clarke not playing to them?
Yeah, obviously, when you lose a player of that stature and that quality, obviously, it would be a loss to them. But they've obviously got a good squad and obviously some fine replacements, so I don't think it's not all doom and gloom for them, but losing your captain is tough.
They were bowled out for 65 the other day. They've not had the greatest of build-ups. You came good in the end against New Zealand. How do you see the balance of power going into the game?
It's irrelevant, those warm-up games. You want to find form as a team, but if you don't find form, you're not going to be remembered for what happened in the warm-up games. You're going to be remembered for what happened in the actual tournament. Just like what happened against New Zealand. We didn't play so well as we could have done in that series, but that will count for literally nothing starting tomorrow.
I think this is probably going to be the last ever Champions Trophy. A while back it was one of England's goals to win a major global tournament, which you did with the World Twenty20. If this tournament ends and is never played and England have never won it, would that be kind of a mission on the national TV?
We've spoken about trying to win a 50-over tournament. So this is an opportunity to do that. Alongside the World Cup in 2015, it's a very important tournament. Whether this happens again, this tournament, we'll have to wait to see somewhere down the line, but we're not quite so bothered about that. We have two weeks' cricket here, and it's a one-day fight. We know what we can do. It's about us delivering it in these two weeks.
England and Australia have played some really great games here at Edgbaston, obviously, and last time you beat them 4-0 over here. The general mood in the England set-up, do you believe that it's going into a game against Australia, a big game, there is never a better time to play them?
In the ideal world, we'd have beaten New Zealand in that series. That would have been ideal preparations, so we haven't been quite on the money that way. We haven't been too far off playing close to our potential, but we've let ourselves down in certain areas. So that is a challenge for training today and then tomorrow as well. We need to be playing close to our potential to beat Australia.
You've had a lot of success in one-day cricket in England with the five-specialist bowlers policy. Did the way Jos (Buttler) attacked the bowling coming in at seven make you think about that?
Yeah, it has made us think about how to balance the team for tomorrow's game. I think it's a good position to be in. It's nice that that worked though, the option of having 3 and 1, and obviously, the fifth bowler being Ravi (Indiscernible) seemed to work well in that game. So it gives you the option. So if we can change the way we play, which we probably haven't been able to do in the past. So it gives us a selection headache in one way, but a good one.
Bad news this morning from Michael Clarke for Australia and his injury. You've had a little bit of back trouble in the past months. You've missed a couple of games or something like that. Once you get it, is it something that can come and go?
I can't speak about Michael Clarke. It's just, obviously, depending on what your back condition is, I suppose. Clearly they are funny things, and yeah, I'm always getting treated for a back issue, but it's about managing it. Fingers crossed, touchwood - I'm not even sure that's wood - but it's in the mind.
The way you bat with 50 overs, I suppose, you tend to, though not always, you tend to kind of set up a platform and hope to rely on Morgan and Bell to go hard towards the end, whereas other teams go harder from the start. Are you happy with your batting strategy in a tournament where 300-plus seems to be the norm?
I was going to say, we've just had one game (laughing). Yeah, I think it's worked well for us the way we've, over the last couple of years, with the way we've batted. Clearly, with these new regulations, most sides tend to be doing that as well. We know how hard it is to stop sides going if you've got wickets in hand in those last 15 overs with the extra field restrictions. And all the sides in this tournament have some firepower as well at the end. I don't think it's just England who are doing that.
Has there been a slight shift in the last few years or certainly in the last year from playing specialist to playing your best players effectively?
Yeah, I think the two - you're talking about you try to pick the best side you can, but it's all in terms of the two new white balls in England. The pinch hitter as such has kind of gone out of the one-day game because of the damage you can do later on in the innings, and obviously, you need the techniques to survive against international bowlers at the top of the order.
How do you think the captaincy is coming along? Do you feel you're growing into the captaincy?
I've been doing one-day stuff for two years now. So I feel quite comfortable in that role. Clearly, the Test captaincy is a lot shorter. But I feel quite comfortable, and I think the lads are quite comfortable with me.
Are you at all surprised at how little the white balls seem to be doing, the two new white balls? Does that change the way you play at all?
It's clearly down to the conditions. I think last year when we played in some one-day cricket when there was some rain around it did a lot for a long time. But thankfully we've got some good weather, and that normally determines, as we know, in England, what the ball does.