Cook leadership impresses Flower

England

Coach Andy Flower has insisted captain Alastair Cook's inadequacies at the top of the order have been successfully countered with an outstanding leadership performance.

Coach Andy Flower has insisted captain Alastair Cook's inadequacies at the top of the order have been successfully countered with an outstanding leadership performance.

While England have retained the Ashes on the back of victories at Trent Bridge, Lord's and Chester-le-Street and a rain-affected draw at Old Trafford, the collective success has not been complemented by Cook's shaky form.

The left-hander has averaged a mere 27.25 for his eight innings in the series so far – some 21 runs less than an impressive career aggregate of 48.08. His astute direction against an inspired Australian unit, however, has brought an unassailable three-nil series lead, regardless.

"Cook has got three half-centuries. Ashes cricket is important to both countries, it lights up the cricket atmosphere, it's great fun for the players and very satisfying and for the skipper that's ratcheted up a few notches," said Flower.

"He takes on a lot of responsibility, has to make a lot of decisions. Cook's a good man, he's a strong man and since he's played international cricket he's shown that, and since he's taken on the captaincy he's shown that."

England's 74-run triumph at the Riverside Ground on Monday was achieved on the back of Ian Bell's third century in four fixtures – and career-best figures of 11 for 121 from Man of the Match Stuart Broad.

"When we started the series we expected a tough battle and it's been that, even though the scoreline says three-nil. There have been some standout performances, Ian's batting has been superb – so skilful and calm under pressure, it's nice for him to come through under pressure," added Flower.

"And that was a standout performance from Broad, we've seen him do it before and when he gets the bit between his teeth he can create a lot of problems."

The fifth – and final – Test will get underway at The Oval in London on Wednesday, 21 August.

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