The Ashes: Australia on the brink against dispirited England

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Australia could hardly be charged with more confidence as they look to rout a dispirited England in the third Ashes test and recapture the coveted urn. Reuters Australia could hardly be charged with more confidence as they look to rout a dispirited England in the third Ashes test and recapture the coveted urn. Reuters
SummaryAustralia could hardly be charged with more confidence as they look to rout a dispirited England in the third Ashes test.

Already 2-0 up in the series and with Mitchell Johnson running riot, Australia could hardly be charged with more confidence as they look to rout a dispirited England in the third Ashes test and recapture the coveted urn.

In a remarkable turnaround, Australia have transformed themselves in a few short months from plucky 3-0 losers in England into an aggressive outfit which has dominated every aspect of play in crushing victories in Brisbane and Adelaide.

Starting on Friday, they have a chance to drive home their advantage and win the tiny terracotta symbol of Anglo-Australian sporting rivalry for the first time since Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath signed off with a 5-0 sweep in 2007.

Johnson's personal transformation has been no less spectacular and the oft-ridiculed paceman now gets his chance to terrorise at his adopted home ground, where even in the dark days of the 2010-11 series he bowled his country to victory.

"It should be fast and bouncy and that excites me a lot, excites all our fast bowlers," said Johnson, who has taken 36 wickets in five tests at an average of 19.66 at the WACA.

"We're familiar with these conditions and we know where to bowl ... if you can bowl a ball accurately at someone's (helmet) grill, I don't care who you are, you are going to feel intimidated, especially on a wicket like Perth."

England could hardly have chosen a worse arena to find themselves with their backs to the wall than the WACA, where they have won only one test in 12, and that back in 1978.

Blinding sunlight and sweltering heat look assured for the five-day match and, if the WACA deck is no longer as quick as it once was, it can still be an intimidating place to face genuine pace bowling of the sort Johnson has been producing.

Even when the afternoon breeze blows up from Fremantle, what relief it brings will be tempered in English minds by the knowledge that it has in the past enabled Johnson to swing the ball to devastating effect.

"One thing I do know about this team is that when we get to this place we come out fighting. You have no option," wicketkeeper Matt Prior said on Wednesday.

"You can sit there and sulk, moan, whinge and make excuses - but you will just get beaten. You have to get rid of all that, and fight."

Australia, a shambolic team at the start of

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