The question of on-field conduct has been a recurring theme in the build-up to this summer’s series, with New Zealand’s recently concluded tour of England taking place with a noticeable sense of sportsmanship.
England and Australia have both been guilty of sledging in recent Ashes encounters but James Anderson, who has been at the centre of a couple of high-profile confrontations, suggested last week that the time had come for change.
And Cook, as captain, has signalled his intention to lead that shift.
“We’ve got a great opportunity to make a real statement about how we should??play cricket,” he said in a Radio Times interview.
“I think the spirit (between England and New Zealand) has been fantastic, and??we definitely can learn from that.
“It was fantastic. It was the most enjoyable series I’ve played in.
“It might be different (against Australia), or we could have a responsibility??to the game.
“It’s always exciting when Australia come, but I just think both sides have??got this responsibility now for the way cricket’s gone.”
But Australia fast bowler Mitchell Johnson does not think Anderson will change his behaviour completely and believes the series is better for the rivalry, even if does exceed ‘friendly’ levels at times.
“That is interesting coming from him because he is probably one of the biggest??ones in the England team. I don’t think anything is going to change. I think he??is just trying to get it out there to make himself look better,” said Johnson.
“We like someone who has got a bit of guts and determination, having a bit of??fire in the game. That is what people want to see in Test cricket.
“Do I like it? Who likes getting sledged every day? It has just been part of??the game and I have been targeted all over the world.
“Now, being able to experience all of that has made me a better player and a??better person, that is where I think I have to be able to help the younger guys who have not been through that experience.”