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Alastair Cook believes England have the experience to win from difficult situations. Gareth Copley / Getty Images
Alastair Cook believes England have the experience to win from difficult situations. Gareth Copley / Getty Images

Ashes round-up: England tough nut to crack in return series, says Cook

Clarke confident Australia can rebound from 3-0 defeat, Lehmann apologises to Broad and Morris resigns from England board post.

LONDON // Alastair Cook, the England captain, has warned Australia that his Ashes winners will prove a tough nut to crack when the bitter rivalry resumes later this year.

Cook's team concluded their dominant 3-0 series win over the Australians with a dramatic draw in the fifth Test at The Oval on Sunday and thoughts have already turned to the next instalment of cricket's most enduring grudge match.

England, set a target of 227 to win after Australia captain Michael Clarke's bold declaration, needed 21 more to win off 24 balls with five wickets left when the umpires decided the light, even with the floodlights on, was too dark to continue.

The draw meant England have now triumphed in three successive Test series against Australia for the first time since the 1950s.

And Cook, delighted with the way his team coped with the pressure of being favourites, believes his battle-hardened troops will have no problems dealing with the renewed challenge from Clarke's men in the rematch.

"If you go right back to the start of the series a lot of questions were asked of the England team and people wondered if we would be able to handle the pressure of being favourites," Cook said.

"We've had some tough times but we've shown character. When runs needed to be scored and wickets need to be taken we've done it.

"That's the hallmark of a good side, Even when the opposition scored nearly 500 here we can force our way back into the game.

"We are becoming incredibly tough to beat. We are forcing our way back into games and that comes with experience."

Cook knows Australia will come at England hard on enemy territory in the year's second Ashes series, which starts in Brisbane in late November.

But he is certain his squad can cope with anything the hosts throw at them.

"In Australian conditions where they are more comfortable of course it's going to be hard, that's why Australia is such a hard place to go. But I feel very comfortable that this side is capable of doing that," he said.

A rancorous series reached an explosive finale during The Oval Test as Australian coach Darren Lehmann accused England bowler Stuart Broad of cheating when he failed to walk despite a clear edge at Trent Bridge earlier in the series, while both teams were caught sledging.

Clarke confident about return series

Clarke, though, insisted Australia's defiant effort proves they are ready to mount a strong challenge to regain the Ashes.

"I certainly think we take a lot of positives, especially from the last three Tests," Clarke said.

"We would have won in Manchester if it didn't rain. We got close in Durham after being 150 for one batting last and without rain here on Saturday it would have been a great finish to the final Test.

"I'm really pleased with the boys. There have been some special personal achievements in the series.

"Shane Watson batted well in the first innings here and Chris Rogers and Steve Smith have scored Test hundreds.

"Our bowlers fought their backsides off the whole series, especially Ryan Harris, He got our player of the series and deserved it.

"When we get a win we will run with that momentum. We need to look at the whole series and areas where we can improve, but we will take a lot of confidence from the way we played in the last three Tests."

Clarke's warning to umpire ends bitter Ashes

Clarke told Aleem Dar, the umpire, not to touch him in the final session, Australian media revealed Monday.

Clarke's exchange with the umpires hit the headlines after bad light ended England's dramatic late bid.

"Michael Clarke asked umpire Aleem Dar to take his hands off him as the final Test ended amid controversy and confusion after one of the most extraordinary days in the history of Ashes cricket," The Australian's Wayne Smith said.

The daily quoted Clarke as saying: "I can't remember what I said. I remember Aleem touching me and I asked him politely to not touch me because if I touched him I'd be suspended for three matches."

Dar had reached out with his left hand to push the Australia captain away.

Clarke later revealed at the post-match presentations that the lux (light) reading was 5.7, "no comparison", as he put it, to the brighter 8.1 level that had prompted the umpires to call play off in Manchester when Australia had been in control of the Third Test.

"Once they took the reading, I knew it was going to be darker than what it was in Manchester. I was batting at the time in Manchester and I knew it was going to be darker," Clarke said.

Lehmann and Broad move on

Darren Lehmann, the Australia coach, has promised to learn from the controversy sparked by his scathing attack on England's Stuart Broad.

Lehmann, speaking in a radio interview last week, accused Broad of "blatant cheating" following the pace bowler's decision not to walk after edging a catch at Trent Bridge. He also called on the Australian public to make life so difficult for Broad during the Ashes re-match in Australia later this year that he will want to cry and go home.

The comments earned Lehmann a fine of 20 per cent of his match fee from the The Oval Test, but he said he has now spoken to Broad to draw a line under the incident and will look to make sure he chooses his words better in future.

"I've had a chat with him already. We just move on," Lehmann said.

"It was a good learning curve for a new coach, wasn't it?

"You know, it was a jovial setting but you've got to learn from that. I've got to learn and improve from that.

"The players aren't on their own in trying to improve. Coaches have got to improve so that's something I've got to get better at."

English cricket chief Morris stands down

The England and Wales Cricket Board says Hugh Morris is standing down as managing director.

Fresh from England's third straight Ashes series win over Australia, Morris is to move to Glamorgan County Cricket Club as chief executive and director of cricket.

Morris has worked for the ECB since 1997, and has been managing director for the past six years.

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