Cricket: Four in a row Ashes target inspires Cook

England captain Alastair Cook insisted the goal of winning a fourth successive Ashes series would ensure his side weren't complacent when they arrived in Australia for the latest defence of the urn.

Not since 1890 have England known what it is to enjoy four straight Test series wins against their arch-rivals.

But that was the prospect that lied in wait as, barely two months since wrapping up a 3-0 home series win over Australia at The Oval in south London, Cook's squad flew out from Heathrow Airport to Perth for a five-Test tour which begins with a three-day game against Western Australia starting on October 31.

Opening batsman Cook, asked if England might be complacent after three straight series wins told reporters at a departure press conference at Heathrow on Wednesday: "Complacency -- that's not a problem.

"We have a chance to win four Ashes series in a row for the first time since 1890. Everyone is excited by that and is desperate to do that," said Cook, who will be keen to avoid the fate of England predecessor Peter May who in 1958/59 saw his bid to lead the side to a fourth straight series win over Australia end with a 4-0 thrashing 'Down Under'.

"Clearly, top-order runs in Australia are vitally important and we saw last time when we went there how big runs make a massive difference an set the game up," Cook explained.

"Sometimes in England, 240, 250 can be a good (innings) score with the overhead conditions.

"But the majority of the time in Australia 400 is the bare minimum. In that first innings you want to get into the game. That's the job of the top order."

Cook should know.

During England's 3-1 series win on their last tour of Australia in 2010/11, when all their victories came by an innings, meaning they only batted once, Cook scored a colossal 766 runs at an average of 127.66 with three hundreds and a best of 235 not out.

The 28-year-old Essex captain and left-hander was nothing like as prolific during the recent campaign, with a return of 277 runs at 27.70 with three fifties.

"They (Australia) bowled well and I didn't execute as well as I could have done," Cook said.

"Every single time you bat you'd love to score runs. You always look back and think 'I could have done better' and I could have done a lot better."

Reflecting on the series just gone, Cook said: "If you win 3-0 in an Ashes series it is a great achievement and one we should look back on with fond memories. For me as a captain to experience that is something I will always remember. We had a good summer.

"To win 3-0 was pretty good and I would love to do that again."

And after a packed home programme, which included leading England to the final of the Champions Trophy one-day tournament where they lost to India, Cook insisted he and the other senior members of the squad felt fully refreshed.

"The two months' break has been great and the lads are raring to go. It's great to get that buzz at the start of the tour and the lads are ready."

As for England being billed as favourites (British bookmakers William Hill have England 10/11 for the series with Australia 13/8 and 9/2 the draw) Cook said: "When you have won the last three series, and the last one was only two months ago, it is fair if people say we are favourites.

"This summer was the first time we had gone into an Ashes series as favourites but winning in Australia is no mean feat, that's the challenge we have got in front of us."

England found themselves under fire, mainly from Australians, for their style of cricket with wins achieved by grabbing hold of key moments rather than dominating in dashing style throughout a match.

However, the pragmatic Cook said: "To me it's all about results -- 3-0 sounds a lot better than 0-3."