Ashes 2015: England's Alastair Cook savours 'special summer'

By Sam SheringhamBBC Sport at The Oval
Alastair Cook
Alastair Cook has now played in four Ashes-winning teams, two as captain

England captain Alastair Cook said defeat in the final Test at The Oval will not detract from a "special summer" for his Ashes-winning team.

Although Australia beat England by an innings and 46 runs in four days, the hosts ran out 3-2 series winners after regaining the urn at Trent Bridge.

"The last four days haven't quite gone to plan," Cook told Test Match Special.

"But going into the series no-one gave us a chance, so we can't let that take the gloss off a special summer."

Back-to-back victories at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge gave England an unassailable 3-1 lead going into the finale at The Oval.

However, they were outplayed by Australia, who completed their victory by taking England's last four second-innings wickets on a rain-hit final day.

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"There has been a little bit missing in this match - it wasn't complacency - but emotionally to come from such a high at Trent Bridge and be 100% on it was hard and we couldn't quite manage it," said Cook.

Cook's team avenged their 5-0 whitewash down under to extend England's winning Ashes run on home soil to four series dating back to 2005.

But he insisted his young team have plenty of room for improvement after heavy defeats in two of the five Tests exposed flaws in the side.

"Are we near the peak? No, we're not. We're nowhere near the finished article, but we've got a very exciting team and I genuinely believe there will be some really good times," he said.

Australia's retiring captain Michael Clarke bemoaned the state of the pitches for the final three Tests, two of which were won by England inside three days.

Clarke claimed that calls in the English media for green, seaming pitches had influenced groundsmen at the venues.

Ex-England batsman Geoffrey Boycott on Test Match Special
"England supporters are going to be pleased. But it hasn't been a memorable series because it will be remembered for exceptional bowling performances and batsmen who had their techniques exposed. Eighteen days to play five Tests... Wow! You won't get that very often."

"I'd like to see groundsmen around the world have the courage to go with what they think is a good cricket wicket," he said.

"In the first Two tests there was a lot of talk from the media and commentators about how flat the wickets were and yet those two matches were over in four days.

"One team won and one team lost. The next three were over in three days. I want to see good fair cricket for batters and bowlers and most importantly a winner and a loser."

Cook said: "The wickets were the same for both sides. In three of the five Test matches we played better than Australia and that's why we've won the Ashes.

"At certain moments we've had outstanding performances by a member of our side and the talent in our squad means we are going to win games quite quickly.

"We have some game-changers in that squad and in the Tests we've won we've really rammed home our advantage quickly."

Michael Clarke
Michael Clarke had his family in attendance for his final Test

There were only 18 days' play in the series - the joint lowest for a five-match series - after four-day finishes at Cardiff, Lord's and The Oval and three-day Tests at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge.

Australia coach Darren Lehmann said: "There aren't many matches that go five days, but three and a bit is a bit short.

"The people that miss out are the fans. That's the thing I worry about."

Amid England's celebrations, batsman Ian Bell admitted on Test Match Special that he would consider his future after a disappointing series in which he averaged 26.87.

Cook said he hopes 33-year-old Bell, who has played 115 Tests, decides to continue as England prepare to play Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates in October.

"Ian Bell is a class player and I hope he's around for a few more years," he said.

Alastair Cook and Ian Bell
Ian Bell is the only England batsman who has played alongside Alastair Cook in all four of his Ashes series