England captain Alistair Cook believes achieving Ashes 2015 glory would be the greatest moment of his career.
The 30-year-old guided England to a 3-0 series win over Australia in his first Ashes series as skipper in 2013, but endured a humiliating whitewash by their fiercest rivals Down Under the following winter and then a home series loss to Sri Lanka.
However, a resurgent England will be buoyed by their displays in both Test and One Day formats against New Zealand – as they begin the 2015 Ashes series in Cardiff on Wednesday July 8. BoyleSports are currently best priced on both 3/1 England to win the first Ashes Test and 5/2 for the draw, while they have Australia at 5/6 to begin their Ashes defence with a win.
Cook – who was stripped of the England One Day captaincy just months before this year’s disastrous World Cup campaign – recently became England’s leading Test run-scorer during the tour of West Indies and he is optimistic he can add to that triumph by snatching back the famous urn from Australia this summer.
Cook said: “It was an incredibly tough time. Losing that Test series against Sri Lanka and that fourth day at Headingley is as tough as it can get.
“So, from where we have been, if we did win the Ashes at The Oval that would be remarkable and something I would be very proud of – it would be my best achievement.
“We have a good chance of winning. It is going to be a highly competitive series and we will go in as underdogs, because they are the best side in the world.
“But in our home conditions – and with what has happened over last five or six weeks – and the support we are getting, we have a really good chance.”
England will enter the series trying to prevent Australia from winning a first Ashes series on English soil and Cook also revealed that his teammates are desperate to ensure that doesn’t happen.
Cook added: “The senior guys who have been round the block can have that temptation to sit back a little but, just chatting to the guys over the last two or three weeks, they are as hungry as ever.
“I saw Jimmy Anderson last night and, as soon as we started talking about cricket, he told me what he wanted to do to certain players. This is a guy who has taken 400 wickets, so that excited me.”