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Mitch not on the menu for Cook

LONDON: Alastair Cook dismissed talk of Mitchell Johnson as “irrelevant” as England prepare to face Australia’s new-look pace attack in the first Ashes Test.
The former England skipper and key batsman was speaking after Australia spinner Nathan Lyon’s taunts that his team was in the mood to “end some careers” during the much-anticipated series.
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 in Brisbane as the Australians inflicted a crushing 381-run defeat, triggering a humiliating 5-0 series rout.
But Cook urged his teammates to maintain their focus on the first Test and ignore what happened four years ago.
“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 said.
“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.”
The lead-up to the first Test has been dominated by talk that the pace attack the tourists will face at the Gabba — Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins — is better and quicker than the one Johnson spearheaded last time the Ashes were played Down Under. But for Cook such talk is just that, all talk.
“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.”
Meanwhile, David Warner is confident of being fit to play at the Gabba after he gave the Australian camp a scare by hurting his neck during a fielding drill.
Australia’s vice-captain felt a twinge in his neck as he ran back to take a catch and immediately left the field to receive treatment.
But the opening batsman hit for six any idea that he wouldn’t be able to take the field when play gets underway in the early hours of tomorrow morning.
“I don’t think a sore neck is going to keep me out,” Warner said.
“I took a high ball out there and something just twinged in my neck. I‘m getting a bit of physio treatment at the moment and hopefully it’s settled down over the next 24 or 48 hours.
“I’ll try and have a hit tomorrow at some stage. I might have to work on my technique a little bit more, facing up,” he said. “It’s quite sore. I haven’t really had a stiff neck like this one.”

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