Aussies still Ashes favourites: Cook

Alastair Cook insists Australia remain favourites to win the Ashes, despite the two sides’ contrasting fortunes over the past fortnight.

Australia are set to make two changes for the second Ashes Test, with Brad Haddin to miss the Lord’s clash due to family reasons and Shane Watson dropped.

Ryan Harris’s retirement means the tourists will be without three of the veterans expected to play crucial roles in the five-Test series.

Mitchell Starc, who snared seven wickets in Cardiff, has overcome the ankle injury he sustained on day one of the first Test and should play.

The selection quandaries followed a 169-run loss in the Ashes opener, in which Australia were outplayed and outclassed by England inside four days.

The hosts had an even spread of contributors, with Moeen Ali’s side injury their only concern this week.

Cook believes Ashes-holders Australia are still in the box seat to triumph over the next six weeks.

“It’s always nice being the underdog. Australia probably are still favourites as they need only to draw the series to keep the Ashes,” captain Cook said.

“They will come back hard at us. It’s how we respond and whether we can put the pressure back on them.

“I’ve spoken to all the lads about looking forward this week.

“We have to get on the same front foot as we did in Cardiff. One game out of one is good and the challenge now is to do it here.”

Cook suggested new coach Trevor Bayliss has encouraged the side to be aggressive, but not depart from their natural game.

“Trevor has said all along that it’s absolutely vital we play to our strengths,” he said.

“That is why you all got picked in the first place.

“It is an old saying, but you have to stay true to yourself.”

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