Cook challenges Johnson to fire again

England captain Alastair Cook put forward three reasons his Ashes side would be a different beast to the one tamed so easily in 2013-14.

One, it’s on the other side of the world.

Two, England’s XI has changed significantly since then.

Three, Mitchell Johnson’s 37 wickets in that series represented a freakish once-in-a-lifetime performance.

The Australian camp will care little and can do nothing about the first two, but Johnson will be out to prove Cook wrong on Wednesday when the Ashes series begins in Cardiff.

When asked about the prospect of Johnson reprising his role as the intimidator, Cook noted the left-armer’s challenge was to back it up.

And the opener hinted that might not be possible, likening it to the staggering 766 Test runs the English skipper scored in England’s successful tour of Australia in 2010-11.

“Mitchell had the series of a lifetime, pretty similar to what happened in 2010-11 with my form,” Cook said.

“You get on a bit of a roll and you can’t do no wrong.

“Credit when it’s due, he bowled very well and bowled quickly.

“Whether he can repeat that, that’s the challenge and we’ve got to make sure we cope with it better if he does.”

Cook also echoed the thoughts of Stuart Broad, who suggested last week that local conditions should leave England better equipped to face Johnson.

“Obviously, the pace and bounce in these wickets aren’t as much (as Australia),” he said.

Without naming names, Cook noted there were a few English veterans in the most-recent Ashes that were “kind of hanging on”.

Whereas now, most players are at the early stage of their cricket careers – or, in the case of Adil Rashid, yet to play a Test.

“They’ve got the chance to create their own history,” he said.

“That side at the end of 2013-14 was right at the end of its life cycle, I suppose.”

Cook added “a lot has happened” since the 2013-14 Ashes.

“It wasn’t the last game we played,” he said.

“It’s a different set-up and … we know how hard it is when you travel abroad to play.”

Cook described Trevor Bayliss as a no-nonsense operator, adding the division of labour between coach and captain had largely stayed the same.

“The captain does get a big say,” he said.

“It hasn’t changed too much.”

The series starts at 8pm (AEST).

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