Tue, Dec 10, 2013 - Page 20 News List

Australia eye Ashes redemption

MIND GAME:Former England captain Michael Vaughan said the only way England can avoid a series defeat is to rally mentally from two crushing Test drubbings by Australia

Reuters, LONDON and Adelaide, Australia

Australia players celebrate yesterday after dismissing England batsman Graeme Swann, right, on the final day of their second Ashes Test match in Adelaide, Australia.

Photo: AFP

England are heading for a 5-0 Ashes series drubbing in Australia unless they can mentally recover from two crushing defeats, former captain Michael Vaughan said yesterday.

A ruthless Australia rattled through England’s final four wickets yesterday to complete an emphatic 218-run victory, after having opened the series with a 381-run routing in Brisbane, Australia.

The crushing win at Adelaide Oval put Australia 2-0 ahead in the five-Test series, a stunning turnaround from the 3-0 Ashes defeat they suffered to England in August.

The hosts will fancy their chances of securing the famous urn on Friday in Perth, where England have not won since 1978 and where man-of-the-match Mitchell Johnson looms as an even greater threat on the WACA Ground’s bouncy wicket.

“The Australians have played a great brand of cricket,” Vaughan, who captained England to a home series victory in 2005, told the BBC.

“If England are getting out playing the pull shot on a slow wicket, what’s it going to be like at the WACA?” he added. “I see a few technical flaws with England, but it’s in their minds; unless they twist the mentality round, it’s going to be 5-0.”

Vaughan also said the senior players in the team needed to start pulling their weight.

“It’s the worst-case scenario, a horrible environment to be in when you start losing, but the senior lads have to step up to the plate — Joe Root as a young player almost pointed the finger at the senior players and said: ‘Lads, this is how you do it,’” Vaughan said.

His gloomy outlook was shared by another former England skipper, Geoffrey Boycott — never one to mince his words when it comes to England’s batting, which has so far proved inadequate in four innings with only one of more than 200 runs.

“I’ve worked out that 50 percent of our wickets have been given away,” Boycott told the BBC. “A lot of them are pulling and hooking and being caught at fine leg. You can’t win a Test match if you can’t bat.”

The Adelaide win proved Australia’s victory in Brisbane was no flash in the pan, while confirming a seismic shift in the balance of power between the teams.

“It’s not a fluke that we have won the first two Test matches,” Australia captain Michael Clarke told reporters after his team tore through England’s tail in less than an hour. “We’re finally getting the results for the hard work and commitment over a long period of time.

Any hopes England had of rain saving them yesterday were crushed when a shower cleared to allow play to start just 10 minutes late.

Pacemen Peter Siddle (4-57) and Ryan Harris (3-54) combined with aplomb to seal the win.

In reality, England lost the Test on Saturday when their batsmen failed to stand up to another withering spell of extreme pace bowling from the resurgent Johnson.

The red-hot Queenslander took 7-40 in England’s first innings of 172 and twice dismissed their talismanic captain Alastair Cook cheaply to win his second successive man-of-the-match award after his nine-wicket performance in Brisbane.

Cook’s second innings dismissal, hooking Johnson to a man in the deep, was emblematic of his team’s poor shot selection throughout.

He has little time to restore his team’s self-belief before Friday.

“The only guys who can change it are the guys in the dressing room,” said a shell-shocked Cook, who has gone from Australia’s tormentor in the 2010-2011 series, to being the tormented.

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