Pace bowler Steven Finn believes the England squad’s hunger to avenge last year’s “deeply embarrassing” humiliation down under can spur them onto a historic 4-1 series victory at the Oval.
Alastair Cook’s side head into the finale, which gets under way on Thursday, in celebratory mood after reclaiming the famous urn from Australia following a breathless display at Trent Bridge.
England have never won four Tests on home soil in an Ashes series, and Finn, man-of-the-match at Edgbaston, insists the hosts are not ready to party just yet.
“We are just incredibly proud – considering we were underdogs going into the series and how good the Australian team has been in the last couple of years and beyond that,” Finn said.
“But I am very focused on trying to win this series 4-1 now.
“We have been playing towards winning the Ashes, and we have done that now, but there is still a lot of motivation and drive to prove to people we are a good cricket team.
“We have done it for a few games now, and against a very good team, but the thing that is going to keep driving us is that we want to take it forward from there.”
England’s series victory against Australia is in stark contrast to their woeful display Down Under where they were thrashed 5-0.
“We wanted to avenge that because it was deeply embarrassing,” added Finn.
“I didn’t even play a part in the series – I was there watching every day of every game – and it hurt.
“So to be sat here now having regained the Ashes is a very good feeling but it is not time for us to rest on our laurels.”
Finn will be targeting his 100th Test match wicket in the fifth and final five-day contest of the summer and his re-emergence as one of the most dangerous bowlers in the world has been one of the most valuable factors of the Ashes triumph.
His match-winning eight-wicket haul at Edgbaston came 18 months after he was sent home from England’s tour of Australia. He was described as “unselectable” by then-coach Ashley Giles.
But England will now be hoping the 26-year-old fast bowler will help form a nucleus for future successes.
Finn added: “We have exciting players in the dressing room, but it is important we don’t get ahead of ourselves because we have got ahead of ourselves before.
“When we got to number one in the world we started looking too far beyond that and that cost us in my opinion. We started thinking about legacies and I am not comfortable with that sort of stuff.
“Why we have done so well this summer, or why we have won people back to cricket, is because we have taken every day as it comes.
“We have gone out there and played with smiles on our faces and it has brought the best out of us.”
Meanwhile, Finn’s Ashes-winning skipper Cook has revealed he came close to stepping down as captain.
England were in turmoil earlier this year after a dreadful World Cup performance and difficult tour of West Indies under Cook’s captaincy.
Cook admitted he questioned his position in the five-day format shortly after being replaced as captain of the one-day side.
The 30-year-old said that he was convinced to stay on by Peter Moores, who was England head coach at the time.
“I had a big wobble in Antigua (during the first Test) for no apparent reason,” he told a Sunday newspaper.
“Maybe I was showing the effects of what had happened with the one-day captaincy. Right or wrong, that hurt and it was tough for me to take.
“I was thinking, ‘Am I the right man to lead this tour?’ They hadn’t thought that I was for the World Cup. I came back under pressure. That’s when your character is exposed.”
Cook had to endure a barrage of criticism for around 18 months as England toiled and he struggled for form individually.
But now, after winning the Ashes for the fourth time in his career, he is looking to wrap up the series in style.
“It shows that you’re still hungry for the fight,” he added.
“The most important thing now is that we try and put in a performance and go 4-1
“The crowd will be right behind us at The Oval.
“ Can two or three players step up and win us a fourth game? Thinking like that is really exciting. It’s what makes you ready to go again.”
Spinner Moeen Ali has yet to have a starring role with the ball during the series, but the triumph has still left him feeling on cloud nine.
“We’ve been buzzing over the last couple of weeks,” he said.
“I’m really looking forward to the Oval Test match and hopefully making it 4-1.”
The spinner also paid tribute to captain Cook, adding: “He’s been unbelievable.
“He’s captained really well and he’s a great guy to have.
“The respect he has from all the players and all the coaches is there to be seen.”