WEAK, lacking the stomach for a fight and content simply to lose with a smile on their faces – all insults directed at England’s cricketers before the last Ashes series.
But the man who ripped into James Anderson’s personality ahead of the 2009 contest, Justin Langer, accepts there has been a sea change in the way Andrew Strauss’s men go about their business.
Langer, now Australia’s batting coach, once claimed “English players rarely believe in themselves” and that Anderson’s body language “can be detrimental to the side” in a document leaked to the press last year.
But Langer, one of the men now attempting to mastermind England’s downfall, recognises this crop of players will be a tough nut to crack for an Australia team displaying some of the hallmarks he so discourteously attributed to previous English squads.
“I can understand why all of England are excited about winning the Ashes. This is the best England team I’ve seen for some time,” said the former Somerset captain.
“Not necessarily the individuals but the way they fight as a team. Back in Brisbane I would suggest in the past they wouldn’t have batted the way they did on days four and five.
“England teams of the past would’ve rolled over. Even the way they declared at the end of that Test to give themselves an outside chance was unusual for them. They are playing good cricket, we are aware of that and we respect it.”
While the series has been pretty much one way traffic thus far, England skipper Strauss was bracing himself for a typically aggressive Aussie response before the start of the third Test in Perth this morning.
Strauss said: “I’m always aware if you start relaxing and think things are going well, this game has a way of coming back to bite you. We must remember Brisbane was a tight game.
“We’ve got to be just as desperate as Australia because if we’re not, we’ll come unstuck. Australia have got a point to prove and we have to be prepared to counter that.”
THE ALL-ROUNDER |
CONDITIONS, STATS AND BANTER
DAY ONE FORECAST
Curator Cameron Sutherland has prepared a grassy one. Perth is traditionally a result wicket, but the groundsman appears to have taken the draw right out of the equation with this strip.
STATS OF THE DAY
Ricky Ponting claims he’s a fan of batting on Perth’s traditionally bouncy surface. But the numbers wouldn’t appear to suggest as much, while his recent shortcomings against the short ball could see his mixed record at this venue extended. In 20 Test innings since making 96 on his debut 15 years ago, he has passed 50 only three times.
England’s record at the WACA doesn’t give much cause for hope. They’ve won once in 11 Tests, and that was back in 1978 against an Aussie side robbed of their best players by the Kery Packer revolution.
“Guns 'n' Roses are in the same hotel as us. We've seen Axl Rose hanging around and it’s not hard to spot the other members of the band. They’re all very heavily tattooed and there was one chap sat at the bar with a top hat on. I must admit, I’ve never cared much for their music. Sweet Child 'O Mine was okay, I suppose.” – Sky Sports commentator David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd surprises nobody with his lack of appreciation for America’s crinkly metal rockers.
“The Hurley bird gets the Warne.” – Former England international Derek Pringle is the latest to join in on the Shane Warne / Liz Hurley pun based Twitter action.
“In the nets he is the best bowler in the world, bar none. He is unplayable. But trying to get that form and aggression out in the middle was hard.” – Speaking of Warne, the now very definitely ex-Aussie spinner summed up his experience of playing with former Hampshire teammate Chris Tremlett.