England looking to stretch winning run into double figures at Old Trafford
15:13 GMT, 8 July 2012
Captain Cook: England have won the Natwest series
England are eyeing a 4-0 NatWest Series victory over Australia, but admit they may yet consider resting first-choice players for the final match at Old Trafford.
Alastair Cook spoke, after his team's eight-wicket win at Chester-le-Street had established an unassailable 3-0 lead, of the cachet of a clean sweep against the old enemy – but also the possibility of once again employing the rotation policy.
England's selectors first caused a stir when James Anderson was prescribed a break for the final npower Test against West Indies at Edgbaston, a fixture his pace colleague Stuart Broad also eventually sat out.
Then came a rest for the last one-day international against the Windies at Headingley, a match which was washed out in any case, for home favourite Tim Bresnan, Broad and Graeme Swann.
Most recently, off-spinner Swann did not travel up to Durham as England took a safety-first approach with his sore bowling elbow.
That was the first instance of a key player being rested before a series was won. As yet, no batsman has been given a break either.
Cook, meanwhile, can reflect on an impressive ninth successive ODI victory – and England's seventh consecutive home series win in 50-over cricket – but he knows the job is not yet complete.
'Four-nil looks a lot better than 3-1,' he said, looking forward to Tuesday's day-night fixture in Manchester.
Perfect 10: Trott (right) and Bopara (left) guided England to victory in Durham
'They will be desperate not to let that happen, but we have got to be just as hungry as we have been in these games.
'It would be great to make it 10 wins in a row.'
As for the possibility of a break from the packed schedule for one or more of England's regulars, he said: 'There is always a chance that we will rotate.
'We want to win 4-0 but we will look at selection, like we always do.'
Steven Finn certainly demonstrated on Saturday that he appears to be thriving on his bowling, cutting down Australia's batsmen with the new and older ball.
The Middlesex fast bowler barely put a foot wrong, operating at a full length and making the most of favourable conditions to take four wickets as the Australians were restricted to 200 for nine.
'You have got to discipline yourself (in helpful conditions),' Finn said.
'It is not the pitch that matters, but how you bowl.
Matchwinner: Finn took four wickets
'You have to hit the right area from ball one; we did that and built the pressure.'
It is a source of wonder to many of England's ODI and Twenty20 opponents that Finn still cannot force his way into the first-string Test team.
As things stand, the 6ft 8in fast bowler will be stuck on 14 Test caps while England are taking on South Africa in their three-match tussle for top spot in the world rankings this summer.
He said: 'Everything is focused towards playing Test cricket – I have always wanted to do that.
'But first and foremost at the minute, it is trying to be a good one-day team.
'I am trying to focus on bowling and enjoying the responsibility of opening the bowling, trying to thrive on it and putting my name into the hat for Test selection.
'The main way I am going to do that, though, is by going back to Middlesex in four-day cricket rather than taking one-day wickets.
Knocking on the door: Finn is not expected to start the Test series against South Africa
'The rhythm is good; I think I am bowling well, and there is nothing more that I can do other than go back to Middlesex and take wickets.'
Cook's opposite number Michael Clarke, bowled by Finn on Saturday after two hours of resistance under heavy cloud cover, points out that his Test absences merely point to England's seam-bowling riches.
'It's a different form of the game,' said the Australia captain.
'He bowled really well here. It doesn't matter what form of the game, if you bowl like that you're going to get wickets.
'It means they've got some really good bowlers in front of him. I'm sure he's pushing hard for selection.
'He's not far away; he's young and fit and bowling well. We've got to find a way to not get out to him, firstly, and then score runs. We've got some work to do.
Plenty to ponder: Clarke's side have been second best all series
'I thought he bowled really well in Australia in the Ashes (in 2010-11) as well. He's getting better.'
Meanwhile, Australia have called up left-arm pace bowler Mitchell Starc as cover during the remainder of the NatWest Series while they assess Brett Lee and Shane Watson's calf injuries.
The tourists are hoping to discover the extent of fast bowler Lee and batting all-rounder Watson's injuries after scans.
Both pulled up sore while bowling at Chester-le-Street and were unable to complete their spells and had to leave the field.
Starc, 22, last played for his country in the Test series against West Indies in the Caribbean three months ago. He is due to play the final match of a short spell with Yorkshire in Sunday's last set of group fixtures in the Friends Life t20.
An Australia team spokesman said: 'We have called up Mitchell Starc as cover, because we are still assessing the two injured players.'