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We were outstanding today: Cook

The England captain believes the win was more down to his team playing well than South Africa choking

We were outstanding today: Cook - Cricket News
England captain Alastair Cook.
Alastair, pretty outstanding performance today. As good a semi-final performance as you could have hoped for?
Yeah, it was. Obviously if we had said we'd win by seven wickets by 5:00 o'clock today as we walked to the grounds, obviously, we would have almost laughed at you. But clearly it was a good toss to win, adjusted enough and it swung, first on the white ball. It swung conventionally in this tournament. Probably down to the muggy conditions. It's obviously, quite warm out there today.
When it does swing like that, there is no bowler in the world you'd want other than Jimmy bowling with it. Obviously, he was outstanding, and the other guys backed him up. Obviously Finny had a crucial wicket to Amla, and we knew how important that was. And, obviously, Tricky Tredders as well bowling very well.
Graeme Swann was injured today; his replacement was quite good. So what are your plans for the final if Swann isn't ready?
Well, I mean, it's going to be a very tough selection call if Swann is fit. It's a good headache to have. We've been over the last couple games when Swanny has missed out. We've been saying how lucky we are to have Tredders as back‑up. He's more than back‑up at the moment; he's been outstanding.
So it's going to be a tough selection call if Swanny is fit. As I said, we won't risk it if it's touch and go.
So much has been spoken about how South Africa has lost seven semi-finals going back twenty years. But you didn't really give them much of a chance today, did you?
Yeah, it was an outstanding first two hours of cricket from us, really. We kept asking them questions with the ball, and we never let them get away. Normally there was a partnership, and there was a partnership later on and maybe didn't quite get that right on that last little bit.
But 80 for eight, you don't often lose that many games from there. It was a very, very professional performance from the lads. I thought the way we knocked off the runs, there is no better guy you want walking out number three in that situation. He delivers time and time again, and he played very well.
Probably a bit of gloom around after losing to Sri Lanka last week. But the last two games give you the belief that you can beat whoever you are presented with on Sunday?
Without a doubt. You know, we have spoken about people standing up and delivering, and that's how you win One Day games. Two or three people can win a game for you if they play well. And that happened against us when Sangakkara got that fantastic hundreds, and we've done it twice now with the last two teams we've played against.
We just need one more performance from whoever out of the 11 guys that are picked. Two of the guys stand up and deliver a performance, a man of the match performance like that, and you can win the trophy. That's how exciting and how close you are to doing it. It's a good dressing room to be in when you're in the final of a major tournament.
I think the cricket fans, the more casual ones always think of the Ashes. But given England's record in Ashes cricket, would it be as good an achievement to win this trophy?
I think it's a great achievement. It's very hard to compare between one-day and the Ashes and stuff. It's very clear at the beginning of summer we have certain goals we wanted to try to achieve, and one of them was to win the Champions Trophy. And we've given ourselves a great opportunity to do that. Probably just before New Zealand, when it was raining at Cardiff, it was looking a little bit hairy there, but luckily we skated there by playing. And as I said today we were excellent, and it's in our own hands. If we turn up and deliver good skills, we have a good chance of winning.
How big a deal would this be to win a 50-over or 60-over as it used to be, what is the 70th attempt for England?
It would be a massive achievement. It's very hard to do. It's taken a long time to get to the finals. We got to the finals in 2004 and couldn't quite get over the line. I hope this time we can get one better.
I think everyone loves this tournament. The fact that every game has meant so much. Every game has been against high quality opposition, and you've had to be on your A‑game to win it; if you're not, you lose.
I think all the other sides would say that. To be through with the quality opposition we've played, I think that's a good achievement and hopefully it won't stop there.
Given what is at stake on Sunday, what is the approach you guys will take going into the final in terms of keeping your composure and not buckling under the mental pressure?
Well, I think when you play for England, you're under pressure all the time. Today was, I think semifinal was just as much pressure as a final because you're that close to getting through to the final chasing 170. You're desperate to do it, and thinking especially at 170 we should win this.
So we have an opportunity here to win. Not to throw that away, that is a high‑pressure situation in which we played and it was great.
You mentioned this is your first global event. Something for yourself after Jimmy who will be playing his first final Sunday, how confident are you to seeing players and thinking you're going to deliver on the big stage? And how much do you think Jimmy, in particular, will relish the chance to play in a final and do what he does best?
Yeah, as kids, you want to go out and play finals of tournaments, whether it's an under‑13 football tournament you grew up playing. Obviously, our sights now are a little bit higher. But finals can bring out the best in people, and I think this England side in particular has delivered certainly when the chips have been down and the pressure has been up at its highest.
I've got no doubt that the guys in our dressing room will turn up on Sunday. You know, I'm fully confident in the lads that they can do that. I just hope it's our turn.
What is the situation with Finn and Bresnan? Does it depend on Tim's baby or has Steve maybe worked his way on to the team?
It's another selection headache for us. I thought Finny bowled very well. The good news is Hannah has had the baby so that's fantastic news, so it's been a pretty good day. So the guys are very chuck for him. Yeah, it's a selection headache.
We're very lucky that we lose a bowler like Bresnan for this game, and someone like Finny comes up and produces a performance like that. So I'm sure there will be a few meetings over the next couple of days that will be very tough.
Gary Kirsten sat there now and admitted that South Africa choked. Was it part of your team's thought if you got on top of them early, the old wings could come up and you could press an advantage?
No. I think when you're out there in the middle, you don't want to use those terms or anything like that because they've got such a strong middle order. They're 10 for 3 or 20 for 3 or something, and they can rebuild. So you're always pushing and trying to keep your foot on their throat. We did it all the way up to that partnership.
I thought Ash batted very well in that partnership, and it's always a balancing act, isn't it, of when do you use your fifth bowler? Do you need him? Do you go tightly for the kill? Whether I've got that right, I don't know. But I thought we played very well and put them under a lot of pressure and didn't allow them to play. So I think we should give ourselves some credit for that.

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