ENGLAND seamer James Anderson has urged his team-mates not to take their foot off the gas as they begin the first of three opportunities to retain the Ashes tomorrow.
With a 2-0 lead in the series established, England will retain the 11cm urn should they avoid defeat at the recently redeveloped Old Trafford.
Recording an unprecedented 5-0 victory is also still possible, but Anderson insists the whitewash is at the back of the players’ minds and simply hopes England can wrap up the series in his native north-west.
“We played really well in the first two games and our job is to improve on that,” said the Lancashire bowler.
“It [the whitewash] is not something we are really focusing on. We have to concentrate on winning this game and not looking too far ahead in the series.”
England still have concerns over the fitness of batsman Kevin Pietersen, who trained in the nets yesterday with his injured calf heavily strapped.
Meanwhile Australia, who have not tasted defeat in a Test at Old Trafford since 1981, have injury concerns of their own over batsman Steve Smith, who missed training yesterday with a sore back.
Opener David Warner is being lined up as a potential inclusion having previously been exiled from the series to play for Australia’s A team after a string of disciplinary problems.
However, Anderson insists bowling against someone new would not faze the potent England attack, which could boast two spinners.
“It will be a new challenge as we’ve not played against him in Test cricket,” he added. “We have looked at all their players, from one to 15, and we will be ready for every eventuality.
“Hopefully there will be a bit of pace in the pitch, because that is something which has been lacking in the first two games for the seamers.”
England have failed to beat Australia in five Tests at Old Trafford
■ Draw (1985)
■ Lost by nine wickets (1989)
■ Lost by 179 runs (1993)
■ Lost by 268 runs (1997)
■ Draw (2005)