Cook dismisses ‘irrelevant’ Johnson talk ahead of Ashes

England’s Alastair Cook (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)
Updated 21 November 2017
0

Cook dismisses ‘irrelevant’ Johnson talk ahead of Ashes

BRISBANE, Australia: Alastair Cook dismissed talk of Mitchell Johnson as “irrelevant” on Tuesday as England prepare to face Australia’s new-look pace attack in the first Ashes Test.
The former England skipper and opening stalwart was speaking after Australia spinner Nathan Lyon’s taunts that his team was in the mood to “end some careers” in the Brisbane Test.
Much has been said about the demoralizing effect Johnson, who is now retired from internationals, had on England at the Gabba four years ago, when he ripped through the tourists’ batting.
The firebrand left-armer set the tone for the 2013-2014 Ashes with his ferocious fast bowling to take nine wickets at the Gabba as the Australians inflicted a crushing 381-run defeat, triggering a 5-0 series rout.
But Cook urged his team-mates to maintain their focus on the first Test and not to take a rear-vision view of past events.
“Mitch bowled outstandingly in that series, one of the best periods of bowling I’ve ever faced backed up by Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle — (but) they’re no longer playing,” Cook told reporters on Tuesday.
“So in one sense it’s a bit irrelevant.
“It happened four years ago and it’s all what happens on Thursday rather than looking back.
“England have won four of the last five Ashes series, so you can look at what you want.”


Cook said while Australia’s current pace attack — Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins — was strong, it didn’t hold any great fears for the tourists.
“There’s nothing we haven’t seen before in cricket,” he said.
“They’re not suddenly bowling 150 miles an hour. (They’ve) not got magic balls which start way outside the stumps and swing miles and stuff.
“They’re very good bowlers with good records. As batters, that is the challenge we’ve got in the next seven weeks.”
Australia have a formidable record at Brisbane’s intimidating ‘Gabbatoir’ where they have not lost a Test match since 1988, and where England are winless in 31 years.
Cook said England had “pretty much accepted” that star all-rounder Ben Stokes would not play a role in the Ashes series, despite reports that he may soon join the tour.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is still waiting to discover if Stokes will be charged by prosecutors investigating a brawl outside a nightclub in September.
“Since we’ve arrived here, as a side, we’ve pretty much accepted Ben would not be here. It’s about dealing with that,” Cook said.
“If there is a bonus of him making the trip at some stage, that’d be great.
“But I can honestly say it hasn’t been spoken about in the change room.
“There’s no good for us to really talk about that. It’s obviously a sad situation... it’s a shame for him he’s missing a big series.”
Australian opener David Warner said Tuesday he wanted Stokes to be involved, but added: “I think it’s probably disappointing for the England team and the country. He’s let a lot of people down.”


Premier League set to use VAR from next season

Updated 25 min 10 sec ago
0

Premier League set to use VAR from next season

LONDON: The Premier League is set to use the Video Assistant Referee system from next season after clubs “agreed in principle” to the move on Thursday.
During a meeting attended by key members of all 20 Premier League clubs, officials were presented with an update on the non-live VAR trials taking place.
They were also given “key learnings” from VAR’s use in the FA Cup and League Cup this season.
VAR was used at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, where 335 incidents were checked by VAR officials, and is already underway in some other European leagues.
A formal Premier League request will now be made to the International Football Association Board and FIFA, the world governing body.
A statement from the Premier League said its testing program would continue for the rest of the season, “with a continued emphasis on those Saturday afternoons which have several matches being played concurrently.”
How VAR decisions are communicated to fans in the stadium will be addressed, with the development of a “clear protocol” to be established.
In April, Premier League clubs voted against the introduction of VAR for the 2018-19 season.
But there have been growing calls from managers and players for VAR to be introduced into the English top-flight for several years.
On Saturday, Southampton forward Charlie Austin called for VAR after he was denied a goal for offside against Watford, a decision he called a “joke.”
Also last weekend, Slavisa Jokanovic, since sacked as Fulham manager, was furious after Aleksandar Mitrovic was denied a goal by a controversial offside decision, with Liverpool going straight down the other end to take the lead.
VAR is used to check goals, penalties — both awarded and not, direct red cards and cases of mistaken identity when a player is wrongly booked or sent off.
The referee has the information relayed through his earpiece by the VAR team.
For some incidents, he can review the footage on a pitch-side television monitor before deciding whether to change his initial call.