sport

Cook proud of England troops

Alastair Cook was delighted with the character shown by his England team as they beat New Zealand in Auckland to win the ODI series 2-1.

Steven Finn was the driving force as the tourists bowled their hosts out for 185 on Saturday, with even Brendon McCullum's third successive half-century unable to rescue a defendable total for the Black Caps in the series decider at Eden Park.

England reached their victory target for the loss of five wickets and with 12.3 overs, leaving Cook to reflect on a job well done.

"Those last two games, the character we showed - it must win games for us and can only bode well for us in the future," said the 28-year-old, who struck 46 at the top of the order.

"We were a little bit rusty in the first game, but the way we went about things putting it right we can really take from. We were excellent up front. The bowlers really set the tone and 180 on that wicket should never be enough."

Finn and James Anderson reduced the hosts to 11 for three by the eighth over, and Cook acknowledged that had been key.

The skipper continued on Sky Sports 1: "I think they were 20 for two in the game before, and today they were 20 for three after 10 or 15 overs. From a captain's point of view it's pretty easy after that.

"When McCullum gets going it's a little bit frustrating, but 180 wasn't enough and we handled the pressure of chasing pretty well.

"We probably lost a couple too many wickets if we're being harsh, but it was pretty comfortable."

On the new-ball duo, Cook continued: "They have been magnificent, these two games. I thought Finny's pace... I think he's up around the 90mph mark pretty much all the time, and Jimmy's world class and he showed it again here.

"It's quite easy to captain in the first few overs when you've got that sort of control. We're going to have to do it again in the Test series because they're very dangerous players, these New Zealanders, and if we're off our game they're going to punish us."

England head into next month's three-Test series as big favourites, but Cook insisted there would be no complacency from his team.

"There's absolutely no complacency," he said. "You know how hard Andy Flower works. He'll be desperate to get his teeth back into coaching us - I'm not sure what he's been doing for the last month or so!"

New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum was gracious in defeat, admitting his team had to learn lessons from how England had handled the big moments.

"We should learn a lot from this," he said when addressing his team at the post-match presentation. "We've hung in some games, worked hard. We've given up some opportunities, but I certainly can't question your fight and your attitude and hard-work throughout the series."

Turning to his opponents, McCullum said: "To Alastair and the England boys, congratulations on a fantastic series.

"You really showed us what it's like to step up at big moments. Every clutch moment you guys stood up and delivered."

"It hurts, but congratulations."

Finn, who earlier took three for 27 from nine overs, was delighted with England's reaction to losing the first match.

"We felt we didn't quite get it right in the first game - maybe we were a little bit rusty but playing these last few games we felt really good," he said on Sky Sports 1. "We've set the tone early and the batsmen have been brilliant as well, so it's been great."

On opening the bowling with Anderson, he added: "It's great to be bowling at the other end to Jimmy. He's one of the best, if not the best, fast bowlers in the world.

"To be able to bowl at the other end and to feed off him and learn off him is brilliant."