The Sunday Mail
Australia captain Steve Smith reckons England will struggle to get back into the Ashes series after losing in Adelaide to trail 2-0 heading into this week’s third test in Perth.
Smith admitted to some nerves when the tourists mounted a comeback after he decided not to enforce the follow-on in the second test but said it would now be a long road back for England in the five-match series after that 120-run defeat.
“It’s always tough coming back from 2-0 down, particularly when you’re away from home,” Smith said.
“You’re really only one or two bad sessions away from the series, really. That can really play on people’s minds when you’re behind.
“We have to be confident, we have to continue what we’re doing, doing the basics really well, getting big first innings runs is crucial as we’ve seen, and just backing up day in and day out.”
Four reasons for Australian confidence were occupying row 13 of flight QF 740 from Adelaide to Sydney last week with quicks Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins on one side of the aisle and offspinner Nathan “Gazza” Lyon on the other.
Although suggestions that the bowling attack is the best to have ever donned baggy green caps are probably wide of the mark, they have done their job by dismissing England twice in both the first two tests.
“I think the exciting thing is our bowling group can only get better,” Starc told reporters on arrival at Sydney airport.
“Obviously we’ve taken 40 wickets over the last couple of weeks and done some really good things but there’s still room for improvement.”
Starc took 5-88 after mopping up the England tail with the new pink ball on Wednesday, while Hazlewood snuffed out hopes of an England win with two wickets, including that of captain Joe root, in the first three overs of the final day of the second Test.
Cummins crucially pegged the English back with the wicket of Dawid Malan on Wednesday night, while Lyon is the leading wicket taker in Tests this year and his captain described his bowling in Adelaide as “exceptional”.
“Paddy, Josh and I have grown up together – Gazza’s a bit older – we’ve been around each other for a long time and we’re really close mates,” Starc added.
“I think that shows in the way we play our cricket and we’re gelling really nicely and complementing each other really well.
“Gazza’s bowling the house down at the moment and that allows the other three of us to just do what we do at the other end.
“Josh does what he does and allows Pat and me to bowl as fast as we want.”
Smith said he was keen for his bowlers and batsmen to get some rest before the Perth test starts next Thursday.
“There’s a reasonable break between now and Perth so the bowlers can freshen up and the batters can freshen their minds, and we can come back and hopefully win the Ashes back in Perth,” he added.
The test will be the last at the WACA and Starc said he was hoping to be presented with a bowling surface that harked back to the days when the likes of Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson terrorised English batsmen in Perth.
“Hopefully we see a nice fast, bouncy wicket, the WACA of old, and get stuck into that as a bowling group,” he said. – Reuters