ICL: Indian Cricket League

Australia oozes confidence as England vows Test fightback


Australia thought but didn’t say “whitewash” while England pledged a more stalwart defense of the Ashes on the last day of their preparations for the third Test at the WACA Ground starting on Thursday.

Australian players trained as breezily as any might who hold a 2-0 lead in a five-match series while England summoned up its blood for the heroic rearguard action that was often the hallmark of its colonial past.

Idiosyncratically, the English tend to cherish courageous losers as much as they embrace winners but little sympathy is likely to be spared for Andrew Flintoff and the England team if they give up the Ashes after the shortest tenure in the trophy’s 124-year history.

The respective positions of the teams in the series were betrayed on Wednesday, not only by their demeanours, but in the tenor of their preparations. Australia’s net practice was short and lively, England’s sombre and serious.

Australia named a team with only one forced change from that which won the first two Tests. England delayed its team announcement.

All-rounder Andrew Symonds won a recall in place of Damien Martyn whose sudden retirement after the second Test at Adelaide has been the only event of the series to shake Australia’s composure.

Symonds will bat at six in the Aussie order, forcing Michael Hussey and Michael Clarke up a place each to four and six and Adam Gilchrist to seven.

England, in contrast, had more selection problems than solutions. It had to consider whether to name Monty Panesar as its only spinner or in tandem with Ashley Giles; what to do with out of form quicks James Anderson and Steve Harmison. Its final line-up will be named on Thursday morning.

More important is the question of England’s psychological state. It has to consider whether it can pick itself up after the second Test disappointment. Its 277-run loss in the first Test at Brisbane was psychologically bruising but more damaging was their loss at Adelaide where they competed for four days before collapsing.

One of the key questions of the match is how the WACA pitch will play. Once a fast bowler’s paradise, the ground has recently become supportive of batsmen and spinners.

Teams: Australia - Ricky Ponting (captain), Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer, Michael Clarke, Mike Hussey, Adam Gilchrist (wicket-keeper), Brett Lee, Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Stuart Clark, Andrew Symonds, Mitchell Johnson (12th man).

England (from) - Andrew Flintoff (captain), Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood, Geraint Jones (wicket-keeper), Chris Read, Sajid Mahmood, Monty Panesar, Ashley Giles, Steve Harmison, Ed Joyce, James Anderson, Matthew Hoggard, Kevin Pietersen, Liam Plunkett. Umpires: Aleem Dar (Pak), Rudi Koertzen (RSA); Match referee: Jeff Crowe (NZ).

Source:The News

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