England captain Alastair Cook has warned Australia that his Ashes winners will prove a tough nut to crack when the bitter rivalry resumes later this year. Match Report: Photo non-finish
Cook's team concluded their dominant 3-0 series win over the Australians with a dramatic draw in the fifth Test at The Oval yesterday and thoughts have already turned to the next instalment of cricket's most enduring grudge match.
England, set a target of 227 to win after Australia captain Michael Clarke's bold declaration, needed 21 more to win off 24 balls with five wickets left when the umpires decided the light, even with the floodlights on, was too dark to continue. Captain's Corner: Clarke takes positive from dramatic draw
The draw meant England have now triumphed in three successive Test series against Australia for the first time since the 1950s.
And Cook, delighted with the way his team coped with the pressure of being favourites, believes his battle-hardened troops will have no problems dealing with the renewed challenge from Clarke's men in the rematch.
"If you go right back to the start of the series a lot of questions were asked of the England team and people wondered if we would be able to handle the pressure of being
favourites. To be able to deliver on that means we can enjoy a few well deserved beers," Cook said.
"We've had some tough times but we've shown character. When runs needed to be scored and wickets need to be taken we've done it.
"That's the hallmark of a good side, Even when the opposition scored nearly 500 here we can force our way back into the game.
"We are becoming incredibly tough to beat. We are forcing our way back into games and that comes with experience."
Cook knows Australia will come at England hard on enemy territory in the year's second Ashes series, which starts in Brisbane in late November.
But he is certain his squad can cope with anything the hosts throw at them.
"In Australian conditions where they are more comfortable of course it's going to