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Alastair Cook keen to serve up an encore

By David Clough

Alastair Cook has told England they must stay true to themselves in the Lord's Test, because that is their best chance of beating Australia again.

As Cook's men seek to win back the Ashes after the miserable whitewash tour Down Under two winters ago, their next critical step is to add victory at HQ to the 169-run triumph in Cardiff.

The captain might have looked as if he was tweaking his own record-breaking batting in that first Investec Test.

But he dismissed such suggestions as he prepared for England's follow-up mission, choosing to emphasise instead the collective commitment to attacking intent and the success it has brought.

Cook was twice spotted in Wales advancing to Nathan Lyon's off-spin, to no avail in his first-innings 20, and he then fell second time round too when he went on the attack early.

He declined to acknowledge the significance of that apparent departure from the methods which have helped him become England's leading Test run-scorer, as he re-stated a determination to follow the brief agreed by himself and new coach Trevor Bayliss.

"That's probably reading a little too much into it," he said. "Trevor has said all along that it's absolutely vital we play to our strengths. That is why we all got picked in the first place.

"It is an old saying, but you have to stay true to yourself."

To that end, it is non-negotiable that England do not restrict themselves to thoughts of mere consolidation.

Cook added: "It is all about looking forward, not protecting what we have got - looking forward to this game and trying to reach those standards again.

"This summer, there has certainly been a real feel-good factor about English cricket.

"Whether we've won or lost, it has been a bit of a crest of a wave."

The requirement here, against opponents destabilised by veteran wicketkeeper Brad Haddin's absence for personal reasons and the likely dropping of mainstay Shane Watson, is that England avoid their recent habit of immediately losing a series lead - as they did in the West Indies in April and then at home to New Zealand.

Cook just hopes they can tap into the Cardiff vibe again.

"We have to get on the front foot, as we did in that Test match," he said. "One from one is pretty good - the challenge now is can we do it again here? The last (two) Test series, we haven't done that.

"They (Australia) will come back hard at us. It's how we respond and whether we can put the pressure back on them."

England should at least have a full-strength and unchanged team available after Cook allayed any concerns that Moeen Ali is a significant doubt after a recurrence of pain in his side.

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