England captain Alistair Cook says the feel-good factor coursing through English cricket this summer has rubbed off on the national team, which is allowing them to outplay Australia.
Cook was speaking ahead of the second Ashes Test, with England going to Lord's full of confidence after their comprehensive win over Australia in the first Test in Cardiff earlier in July.
He says Australia should still be favourites to take home the Ashes because they only have to draw this series to do so, but insists the spirit in the camp is sky-high after the first Test and the results against New Zealand earlier this summer.
Cook said: "There's been a real feel-good factor about English cricket this summer. Whether we have won or lost, there has been the crest of a wave, everyone has got behind the team, from New Zealand onwards, and it has carried on from there.
"Everyone is feeling positive about English cricket and talking about it for the right reasons and that has rubbed off on the players.
"But we have five days ahead of us now. Can we replicate it? We had a good start by winning at Cardiff, played pretty good cricket and now it is one win out of one.
"The challenge now is can we do that here? We haven't managed to do that in the past three series."
'Series is not played on paper'
Cook does not accept that England are favourites at Lord's and expects Australia to come back fighting. He said: "It's always nice to be underdog. Australia are still favourites because they only have to retain the Ashes, but the series is not played on paper or potential – it's what you do on the pitch and we did pretty well at Cardiff.
"Let's not get too carried away, it's only five days into the series. They will come back hard at us that is for sure, and it's how we respond, whether we can put pressure on them again."
Cook has already told his players to forget about the first Test and concentrate on the task in hand.
"We've made great strides and these young players have learned a lot. But it is not about looking back, it's about looking forward, not protecting things but trying to get on the front foot."
And Cook's equanimity extends to his own captaincy, which has been praised in recent weeks after a long period of criticism. "Captaincy is a funny life. You are the guys who write about it, you've criticised me in the past," he told the media.
"When we win, the captain gets the plaudits and when you lose the captain gets the negative stuff, and that is part and parcel of the job.
"I've had to learn on the job because I hadn't done it before, so you tend to get better. You get tough moments along the way, as all captains experience, and that is why it is such a challenging job. You are constantly having to evolve and lead a group of players.
"I really enjoyed Cardiff – we all did because it was a good week to be involved in English cricket. But it's all about the England team, not one person or the captain."