ADELAIDE, Australia (AP):
Alastair Cook plans to combat another hostile reception for his England team in the second Ashes Test by taking the Australian crowd out of the equation.
"You let your cricket do the talking," Cook said yesterday, on the eve of the match at a new-look Adelaide Oval. "Last time we had the same hostile environment when we got here, but towards the end of the series we played some really good cricket and that hostility changed because everyone was very respectful of the way we played."
England are on a three-series roll in the Ashes, having won at home in 2009, in Australia in 2010-11 and finishing off a 3-0 win at home in August.
The impatience of Australian fans for a victory was evident during the first Test in Brisbane, with the level of vitriol directed towards the touring team even higher than the normal Ashes intensity.
The 381-run thumping Cook's team got from Australia in the series opener was accompanied by some angry exchanges between batsmen and fielders, and 'sledging' has been among the most frequently uttered words in the 10 days of Ashes discussion since.
"In that last game we didn't do ourselves justice and they got on top, and that's what home supporters do when you get on top," Cook said. "We knew that coming into this series and a few of us have played a lot of cricket over here. We know how important it is to let the skills out in the middle do the talking and everything else will take care of itself."
Players and officials were criticised for letting the banter go too far in Brisbane. Australia captain Michael Clarke was fined in the wake of the match, but only really because he used an expletive that was heard on the TV broadcast.
Clarke said he accepted and paid the fine and vowed his Australians would continue to play tough cricket within the rules.
Cook was expecting plenty more chatter on and off the field, but added: "It's important that both sides recognise that a couple of scenes in that last Test weren't great for the game of cricket.
"People want to see real tough cricket, that's what they enjoy, especially between England and Australia, but there's got to be a boundary that we don't cross," he said.
There was talk of a truce in the sledging, a suggestion rejected instantly by Australia coach Darren Lehmann, and Cook is certain the verbal warfare will continue because both teams know it can unsettle a rival.
"Anyone who says they haven't been affected by sledging is lying," he said. "Something will always be said or done that will distract you for that split second and you'll listen to it, but the skill of it is how you handle the next ball."