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Pressure no stranger to Clarke as Cook admits to feeling the strain

Alastair Cook, the England captain, admitted to feeling less than 100% as he contemplated a possible 5-0 Ashes drubbing, but he could look to the experience of his opposite number for a lesson in how quickly fortunes can be turned around.

Michael Clarke has certainly plumbed greater depths in the three years since he first took charge of Australia in a test in the final encounter of the 2010/11 series at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

It has been England's turn to be battered physically and mentally in this series, though, and Cook led his side out last night desperate to win the fifth test, avoid the dreaded series sweep and salvage a little pride.

"When you lose, and lose they way we have, it's a tough place to be as a captain," Cook said. "It does affect people. It hurts for me, but it is what it is. All the criticism you get when you lose is always exaggerated and it's kind of hyperbole when you win because that's the way the media work.

"To say I am 100% would be wrong, but I am proud of the way I've handled myself in this series. But I have a hell of a lot to learn as a player and as a captain and I hope we can put in a good performance in this test match."

Clarke has been praised for his captaincy in this series but has not forgotten that earlier this year he was pilloried when Australia were swept aside 4-0 in India and defeated 3-0 in England. "In the last six months we've gone from the worst Australian side ever to tour India, to one of the best Ashes wins in cricket history," he said. "When you're winning, you get away with murder. It's a tough game, you've got to ride the highs and the lows to enjoy the success."

While Cook has always been popular in England, Clarke was not universally welcomed as the heir apparent to Ricky Ponting as Australia captain. He bore the brunt of frustration at Australia's poor form in the corresponding Sydney test in the 2010/11 Ashes series, which England won 3-1, and was booed by a section of the crowd when he came out to bat as the stand-in captain.

Clarke didn't hear the catcalls that day, although he recalled the time he was met with similar scenes at a one-day international in Brisbane in 2011. "I don't remember being booed at my home ground but I got booed at the Gabba," he chuckled. "It sums up the game we play."

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