Published June 22, 2013
BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom (AFP) – England captain Alastair Cook insisted his side were "ready" to make history by beating world champions India in Sunday's Champions Trophy final at Edgbaston.
England have never won a major one-day international (ODI) title, losing the 1979, 1987 and 1992 World Cup finals -- all featuring Cook's mentor Graham Gooch -- as well as going down at home to the West Indies in the 2004 Champions Trophy final at The Oval.
But, ahead of England's defence of the Ashes, which starts next month, Cook said winning the Champions Trophy would be "right up there".
"The lads are raring to go," Cook told reporters at Edgbaston on Saturday.
"I've never seen them as relaxed as we have been leading up to a big game.
"But I'm looking around in the guys' eyes and I know they're ready to play.
"We haven't won a global 50-over tournament, as everyone keeps reminding me.
"There's certain moments in your career where you remember more than others, and if we can win this tomorrow (Sunday) then I think that would be right up there," added the 28-year-old left-handed opener, who averages nearly 50 in Test cricket and almost 40 in ODIs.
India have so far won all their matches this tournament, whereas England suffered a group stage loss to Sri Lanka.
However, when England and India last met in English conditions in 2011 it was England who prevailed, winning a Test series 4-0 -- with Cook scoring a Test-best 294 at Edgbaston - and the one-dayers 3-0.
"They're unbeaten and have played some very good cricket. But our record against India last time we played them in England is a good record," said Cook.
"All I can say is the lads in the last two games (a group stage victory over New Zealand and a seven-wicket semi-final defeat of South Africa) under pressure delivered two excellent performances.
"I can't see a reason why we can't do it tomorrow," Cook insisted.
In-form opener Shikhar Dhawan, the tournament's leading scorer with 332 runs including two hundreds at an average of more than 110, has been the cornerstone of a powerful India top order.
But an England attack led by swing specialist James Anderson has proved highly effective and Cook said: "We've got very skillful new-ball bowlers.
"If you do take some early wickets and put some pressure on their middle order who haven't batted so much, that could work well for us."
However, India pacemen Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma have also been in fine form.
"I think that's why they're probably the favourites...They're scoring runs at the top of the order and taking wickets with the new ball," Cook said.
A further twist is that India are now under the guidance of former England coach Duncan Fletcher, who took charge of the Asian giants soon after their 2011 World Cup triumph and has since overseen a huge improvement in their fielding.
"He had a very successful reign with the English cricket team. I can see him working the same (way) with the Indian team," said Cook.
England pace-bowling all-rounder Tim Bresnan is available following the birth of his son and could replace fast bowler Steven Finn.
But Cook said Graeme Swann, who has played just once this tournament because of back and calf problems, would not feature if there was a risk of further injury with Swann's fellow off-spinner James Tredwell set to keep his place.