- The Ashes: Not a fluke that we have won first two Tests, says Michael ClarkeThe Ashes: We've got to look deep into our souls and turn it around, says Alastair CookThe Ashes: Unless England twist mentality round, it's going to be 5-0, says VaughanThe Ashes: Australia on the brink against dispirited England
The old urn is the last thing England captain Alastair Cook wants to be exchanging with Michael Clarke when their 100th Tests coincide. Clarke's Australians can reclaim the Ashes with another win at the WACA, and they're favorites to do that on a ground where England has tasted victory just once.
Mitchell Johnson has intimidated the England batsmen with his short-pitch bowling, taking 17 wickets in man-of-the-match performances in Australia's first two wins — and he's expected to bowl even faster at his favorite venue in world cricket. A local critic has described the WACA pitch as "the deck of death.''
But while all the pre-match hype has been about the bounce and carry the bowlers will get at the WACA, Cook knows it can yield runs for the batsmen.
“It's one of the wickets where, certainly as an Englishman, you have to get used to,'' said Cook, who scored a century in his first Ashes Test at the Perth venue in 2006. “The first half an hour or so is quite unique with the bounce. It can be a fantastic place to bat, but you've got to get in to make the most of it.''
No team has come back from 2-0 to win an Ashes series since Australia in the 1930s. And despite the third Test not starting until Friday, an Australian betting agency has already started paying out for clients who backed Australia to win the series. “Our confidence has had a hit from the first two test matches,'' Cook said.
“But as a squad we've made a conscious effort to look forward into this game, rather than look back at what's happened. That's not going to do us any good.''
England was skittled for less than 180 runs in its first three innings before making 312 in the last innings in Adelaide, where they were set 531 to win.
Cook said Joe Root and Kevin Pietersen had encouraged the team with a 111-run stand in Adelaide. Besides, he said, “It's very dangerous to start concentrating on one of their bowlers.''
Australia is expected to stick with the same XI which won the first two Tests in Brisbane and Adelaide, with Clarke saying he was confident Ryan Harris would overcome a niggling knee injury while 12th man James Faulkner was ruled out after suffering a broken right thumb in a net session.
England will make changes after the experiment with two spinners