Cricket: Cook urges England to write their own Ashes history

England's Alastair Cook during a press conference.
England's Alastair Cook during a press conference.PHOTO: REUTERS

NOTTINGHAM (AFP) - England captain Alastair Cook wants his side to seize their chance to become Ashes heroes as they bid for a series-clinching win over Australia at Trent Bridge.

Cook's men head into Thursday's match in Nottingham 2-1 up in the five-match series after an eight-wicket victory across the Midlands in Birmingham last week.

Success at Trent Bridge will see England regain the Ashes after they suffered a 5-0 drubbing in Australia in 2013/14.

It would also give them a fourth straight series win on home soil against their oldest rivals and deny 34-year-old Australia captain Michael Clarke, who has achieved so much else in cricket, the satisfaction of an Ashes campaign success in Britain.

England's recent Ashes series victories have been sealed by notable individual displays, be it Kevin Pietersen's breathtaking hundred at The Oval in 2005, Jonathan Trott's less spectacular but equally valuable debut century on the same ground four years later and Stuart Broad's inspired spell at Chester-le-Street in 2013.

And when England won the 2010/11 Ashes in Australia, it was Cook himself who helped add the finishing touches to a 3-1 series win with an innings of 189 in Sydney.

"If someone scores a really big hundred or takes six or seven wickets to help England win the game their name will be etched in history forever", Cook said.

Prior to this series, Cook said winning the Ashes in 2015 would represent one of the greatest achievements of his career given the humiliation England suffered in Australia last time round.

"No-one gave us a chance at the beginning of the series, everyone was writing us off," added opening batsman Cook whose team at Trent Bridge will be missing James Anderson after England's bowling spearhead suffered a side injury at Edgbaston.

"Now we're 2-1 up, which sounds a great position to be in - and it is because it's better than being 2-1 down - but there's a lot of cricket to play."

Meanwhile Clarke, who has managed just 94 runs in six innings so far this series, was well aware of what was at stake for him and some of his team-mates as well.

"There's no doubt this is my last opportunity to win an Ashes series in England - for me personally, and for a number of the guys," said Clarke, aiming to avoid becoming the first Australian in over a century to lose four straight Ashes series in England.

"I'm coming to the back-end of my career. I'm 34 years of age. "(But) getting out of bed to get better hasn't become tougher at all," added Clarke, whose stellar record includes 28 Test hundreds.

Someone who may be even under more pressure than the two captains this week is Nottinghamshire groundman Steve Birks. Last year's Trent Bridge pitch for the run-glut draw between England and India was subsequently condemned as "unacceptable for Test cricket" by the International Cricket Council.

The match witnessed two 10th-wicket century stands - including Joe Root and Anderson's Test world-record 198.

The pitch has been back in the spotlight this week, with Birks saying: "We are aiming for decent pace and carry.

"At Trent Bridge, it's also a lot about the overhead conditions - because, unless the whole game is played under blue sky, I expect that the ball will swing."