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Rejuevnated Johnson gives Cook food for thought
Alastair Cook and Jonny Bairstow run of the WACA Ground oval today. Pic: Getty Images

UPDATE: Mitchell Johnson’s return to form and the new threat of bustling all-rounder James Faulkner have seen England send for reinforcements a day into their Ashes tour.

England skipper Alastair Cook said young left-arm quicks Tymal Mills of Essex and Harry Gurney from Nottinghamshire will work with the England squad as they prepare for the possible challenges of both Johnson and Faulkner, as well as Mitchell Starc if fit.

Johnson had a mid-match meltdown at Lord's during the 2009 Ashes series in England. And despite a match-winning display in Perth in 2010, he was hounded mercilessly by the Barmy Army for the remainder of the series as England won 3-1.

But the former world cricketer of the year has shown glimpses of his best form in the one-day series in England and India.

Mills was due to travel to Australia anyway as part of the England Performance Programme's winter tour but will now depart earlier than expected.

He made headlines in England in the northern summer by smashing a short ball into ace spinner Graeme Swann's forearm before the Ashes began, and with no left-armers in the tourists' squad he and Gurney can provide the batsmen with some valuable practice.

Cook was speaking at the WACA Ground this morning, just a day into England’s three-and-a-half-month tour which begins with a three-day warm-up match against a WA Chairman's XI starting this Thursday.

The last Ashes series finished less than two months ago and Cook acknowledged it was unusual to be locking horns with their biggest rivals so soon again.

"It's slightly strange, it doesn’t seem like any time in history we’ve played 10 Test matches against the same opposition within six months," he said. "And it doesn’t seem that long ago that we were sitting here doing exactly the same thing sitting here in Perth back in 2010. It is different."

Asked how the familairity between the players will pan out, Cook said: "I think that’s one of the very interesting things for people watching, that sides start to work out guys very well, very quickly and how people react, knowing what the plans are going to be for them and how they react themselves to it.

"That’s going to be an intriguing battle because there are quite clear plans for a lot of players which are quite well known to both the players and the public, to see how certain people overcome that."

After the game against the Chairman's XI, England have two further matches before first Test in Brisbane on November 21 and Cook admitted his battery of tall fast bowlers in Steven Finn, Chris Tremlett and wildcard Boyd Rankin, as well as Tim Bresnan, were competing for one spot.

The England players have a run-out across the WACA Ground oval today. Pic: Getty Images

"I think it’s quite clear to see that Jimmy (Anderson) and Broady (Stuart Broad) have done enough over their fantastic careers to be first choice bowlers, and we tend to play three quicks and spinner (Swann), so there is one space up for grabs," he said.

"People have got to stick their hand up for selection, and if they do really well in these couple of warm up games the opportunity’s there."

England will be hoping Bresnan will have recovered fully from the back stress fracture which kept him out of the fifth Test at The Oval and subsequent one-dayers in time to be considered for selection.

"We've got the performance squad coming out so we’ve got both options for him to get some practice in," Cook said.

"We don’t know how his back is going to react, he might be back bowling by the first Test match but we’ll just wait and see how it reacts."

Cook said he was aware of the recent one-day exploits of both George Bailey for Australia and David Warner for NSW.

"George Bailey has done pretty well," he said. "I played against him for Essex against Hampshire this year, I've played a lot of one-day cricket against him … he obviously is a good player because he’s done well at international one day cricket. He can play Test cricket, he’s a good enough player to do that, certainly.

"(Warner is) a dangerous bat because he obviously looks to attack from ball one, and if he gets going he scores runs very quickly.

"One of the main dangers of batters like that they can score very quickly and can take games away from you within a session, session and a half, two sessions. He is dangerous and it’s always nice to see the back of him.

"We’ve got some pretty good plans for him, as you saw in those Test matches we played, but he is a good player with a good record and we’ve got to make sure he doesn’t have those days."

Star batsmen Kevin Pietersen will arrive in Perth tomorrow after being given permission to join the squad late for compassionate reasons.

- England have received a pre-Ashes boost with their Australian-born bowling coach David Saker agreeing a deal which will keep him with the ECB until the end of 2015.

"I have been privileged enough to have been involved in some memorable moments for English cricket over the last three-and-a-half years and worked with some outstanding cricketers," Saker said.

"Given the calibre of players in and around the side at the moment and the hunger and commitment from all involved, I am very much looking forward to another very exciting period over the next couple of years starting with the immediate challenge of retaining the Ashes."

Joe Root after his work-out. Pic: Getty Images
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