- The Ashes
Cook wants no repeat of 'ugly' Brisbane scenes
Alastair Cook has called upon both teams to "play the game in the right way" on the eve of the second Ashes Test.
Cook, the England captain, described the final moments of the first Test in Brisbane as "ugly" and admitted that Jeff Crowe, the ICC match referee, had met both captains separately to discuss the manner in which the match was played. Michael Clarke, the Australian captain, was fined 20% of his match fee after he was heard telling James Anderson to "get ready for a broken f****** arm" in the dying minutes of the game.
Now Cook has accepted that both he and Clarke have a responsibility to ensure that their sides do not overstep the mark.
"It's important that both sides recognise a couple of scenes in that last game weren't great for the game of cricket," Cook said. "I think both sides recognise that. It's important we play in the right way. People want to see real tough cricket, it's what they enjoy, especially between Australia and England, but there's got to be a boundary we don't cross.
"Maybe last week we let emotion get ahead of ourselves a little bit on some occasions and it became a little bit ugly. Michael and I have responsibility as captains to make sure that doesn't happen.
"Some of those scenes were ugly at the end of that game and we do have a duty to play the game in the right way. We want to play tough cricket just like Australia do but we have to make sure we stick to those boundaries and I bear a responsibility for that."
While Clarke was the man penalised by the ICC, Cook accepts that England were no less culpable for the atmosphere in which the game was played. And while he insisted that there should be no let-up in the intensity of such matches, he felt that both sides had to be careful not to let the emotion of the moment push them over the edge.
"We know the responsibility we have when we pull on the shirt," he said. "And no matter how much emotion there is in the game, we know how many are watching us and we know what responsibility we have to the game. Whether we got it right or wrong in that game I don't know but we have got to make sure we behave as appropriately as we can out there. There are always guidelines."
Cook did accept, however, that there were times when "sledging" could prove effective and admitted his own concentration had been disrupted at times.
"Anyone who says they've never been affected by sledging is lying," he said. "Something will always be said or done which will distract you for that split second. You might listen to it and get a little bit annoyed. The skill of it is how you handle the next ball. I don't think anyone will say they don't hear it or don't recognise it.
"It's not a tea party and nor should it be. People pay to see tough competitive cricket. People are wanting to see hard Test cricket. That's what people love about the Ashes or love about any competitive cricket.
"And it will be tough cricket here. It's going to be brilliant cricket over the next five days. We have to come back and prove we're a good side after the loss in Brisbane and obviously Australia want to keep us down, so I think it's going to be a great Test match."
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo