Cook: Team hungry as ever

Alastair Cook (Getty)
Alastair Cook (Getty)

Perth - England captain Alastair Cook insisted  on Thursday his under-pressure team was as hungry as ever and did not need lifting, despite being crushed in the first two Ashes Tests by Australia.

Cook, who like Australian skipper Michael Clarke will play his 100th Test in Perth from Friday, said his side retained the belief that they can prevent Australia winning at the WACA to take an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the five-Test series.

"Our confidence has obviously had a hit from the first two Test matches," he told reporters, referring to Brisbane and Adelaide.

"But as a squad we've made a conscious effort to look forward rather than back. We think we've got our preparations right."

England will go into the Test with coach Andy Flower suggesting there will be changes from the team that played in Adelaide, where they opted for two spinners in Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann.

Perth is more of a fast-bowlers track and Panesar is expected to miss out, although a team has yet to be announced.

"We have taken some serious hits but we do have a squad full of people who are determined to turn the ship around, and that's what we must do," Flower said ahead of the game.

Cook refused to speculate on who might be in the starting 11.

"We will try to pick the best team to win the game. We have a lot of experience in the side, but it's about making sure we deliver in the middle," he said.

"We have a lot of options in the squad, there's a good balance. Whatever team we go in with will be the best one to win the game."

Cook added that the team, which has struggled under the firepower of Australia's Mitchell Johnson-led pace attack, needed to start performing the way he knows they can.

"We talk a good game, but it's about making sure we play a good game," he said.

"I don't think it's anything about lifting the players. That hunger and desire has always been there in this side. We've got another case to show it this week."

The odds are stacked against England who have a sorry record in Perth, where their only win in 12 attempts came in 1978.

Cook's failure with the bat so far and the manner of the two defeats has seen questions asked about his leadership, with Test great Geoff Boycott on Wednesday accusing him of having a "scrambled brain".

The 28-year-old admitted Perth would be one of his toughest tests yet.

"Your next game is always your toughest challenge, but with what has happened so far, I'd say so," he said when asked if Friday's Test was one of the biggest of his career.

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