England captain Alastair Cook has challenged his side to follow two Test victories at Headingley and Durham with a third, as the Sri Lanka series moves on to Lord’s on Thursday.
In two of the last three Test series, England have failed to perform in the final match, having reclaimed the Ashes in 2015 and sealed a series win in South Africa with a game to spare. Australia won by an innings and 46 runs at The Oval, while South Africa took the fourth Test at Centurion by 280 runs.
While those results had no bearing on who took the series, the Super Series format – as revealed by England cricket director Andrew Strauss last month – means that points are still up for grabs on this occasion.
“Now with Straussy’s points scheme we can’t talk about dead rubbers!,” Cook, who became the first Englishman to reach 10,000 Test runs last time around, told ECB.co.uk. “But it’s part of how this side evolves: we’ve lost a few dead rubbers in the past and we haven’t played well in those matches. This is another step of making sure we play well when the pressure is off in terms of a Test series wins.”
England go into the Lord’s Test with the same side that achieved a nine-wicket win at Durham. Cook believes the 11 players who performed well at Chester-le-Street should be allowed to state their respective cases once more in this final Test.
“We had two pretty good performances,” he said. “Chris Woakes came in [to replace Ben Stokes] and played well. You want people to feel as comfortable as they can do. Clearly, there’s always talk about selection. I’m very happy about the balance of the side.”
As for what sort of game to expect, Cook believes the Lord’s track will play to type. “I think it’s going to be a pretty good wicket. A lot of what happens at Lord’s is down to the overheads. I’m expecting a good five days: it doesn’t usually break up here so I’m expecting a long slog.”