Ashes 2013: England wary of past mistakes - Alastair Cook

By Sam SheringhamBBC Sport at Old Trafford
Alastair Cook avoids 'dangerous' 5-0 whitewash talk

England captain Alastair Cook said his team will learn from past mistakes as they look to complete an Ashes series win over Australia at Old Trafford.

In the last two series, England went 1-0 up but lost at Headingley and Perth before recovering to win the series.

This time, England take a 2-0 lead into the third Test but Cook is refusing to look beyond Thursday in Manchester.

"It is a great opportunity we have but you can't start thinking about anything other than the first hour," said Cook.

Victories in the first two Tests have put England in a commanding position to seal their third Ashes series victory in a row.

Donald Bradman's 1936-37 Australians are the only team to have come back from 2-0 down to win a Test series between the two countries.

But despite history favouring his men, Cook is eager to guard against complacency after experiencing major slip-ups on the road to Ashes victories in 2009 and 2010-11.

On home soil four years ago, England went into the fourth Test at Headingley with a 1-0 lead, but were bowled out for 102 on the first day and slumped to a defeat by an innings and 80 runs.

In the 2010-11 series down under, England were thrashed by 267 runs in the third Test in Perth as Australia levelled.

"At Headingley we did start thinking too far ahead," said Cook. "I admit I do remember saying 'if we win here we win the Ashes'. There was that mentality and we forgot about the hard work.

"In Perth, I think you have to give credit to the way Australia played in that game. I don't think it was anything to do with it being 1-0 in the series. It wasn't a do-or-die game as such and they outskilled us."

England have won six of their last seven Tests at Old Trafford, narrowly missing out on a victory over Australia in the 2005 Ashes when final pair Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath batted out four overs for a draw.

The hosts will wait until Thursday morning before deciding on the fitness of batsman Kevin Pietersen, who has been receiving treatment for a calf strain suffered during the second Test at Lord's.

Cook said the Surrey batsman had a "pretty good" chance of playing but that the final decision would rest with Pietersen himself.

"At the end of the day it is pretty much the player's responsibility," Cook said. "You can have as much medical advice and technology as there is today but only the player deep down knows what he is thinking.

"He has always been desperate to play for England. Over the past week he has worked incredibly hard behind the scenes at rehab, which is not the most fun thing to do, to get himself hopefully right for Thursday."

Australia have selection issues of their own, with off-spinner Nathan Lyon likely to replace Ashton Agar and batsman David Warner poised to return at the expense of either Chris Rogers, Phil Hughes or Steve Smith, who has been battling to overcome a bad back.

Warner was fined and suspended for punching England's Joe Root in a Birmingham bar in June, but scored 193 for Australia A against South Africa A last week before being recalled to the squad.

Captain Michael Clarke refused to confirm whether Warner would be selected, but insisted the combative batsman would "look forward" to any verbal taunting from England.

Despite being outplayed in the first two Tests, Clarke still thinks Australia can turn the series around.

"I honestly believe we can win this series," he said. "I know there are a lot of people out there who will laugh at me saying that but I wouldn't be here today if I thought this team wasn't good enough to have success.

"The reality is our backs are against the wall but if we play our best cricket I think we will give it a real shake for the rest of the series."

Old Trafford will be hosting its first Test since 2010 following a £44m redevelopment.

The refurbished ground features new dressing-rooms and media centre at the Statham End, a hospitality suite and a temporary stand of 9,500 seats taking the total capacity to 25,000.

The first four days of the match are sold out, with the exception of restricted view seats, while tickets are still available for day five.

After heavy rain on Wednesday, the weather is forecast to be dry and sunny for Thursday's opening day, with showers on the cards for Friday and Saturday.

England squad: Alastair Cook (Essex, capt), James Anderson (Lancashire), Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire), Ian Bell (Warwickshire), Tim Bresnan (Yorkshire), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Monty Panesar (Sussex), Kevin Pietersen (Surrey), Matt Prior (Sussex, wk), Joe Root (Yorkshire), Graeme Swann (Nottinghamshire), James Taylor (Nottinghamshire), Chris Tremlett (Surrey), Jonathan Trott (Warwickshire).

Michael Clarke says 'We can still win series'


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