By Shane Thomas
So far during this current Ashes series, the Australian press have lamented & the English press have delighted in the apparent role-reversals currently playing out between the two countries. Australia have been honest, mundane & uninspired while England have been incisive, dead-eyed & ruthless.
Tomorrow the 3rd Test begins in Perth. After which two Test Matches will remain. If England can secure victory at the WACA they will be two up with two to play. And as they are the current holders of the Ashes, the urn will be retained.
England are on the cusp of a rare achievement. It's been 23 years since an England side returned from Australia with the Ashes, and they have barely put a foot wrong in their attempt to rectify that. Their win at Adelaide not only banished the demons from their emaciating loss in 2006 but showed a dominance seldom associated with English cricket. They didn't just beat Australia. They crushed them.
England teams of the past would probably not kick on from here. They'd likely show up to the next contest with a deferent attitude, and allow Australia a path back into the series. But under captain Andrew Strauss and coach Andy Flower, England have grown not only into a measured and capable team, but a cold-hearted one.
And this is not a criticism. Bar Ricky Ponting's tiresome and inevitable complaints to umpires and England's players, the series has been conducted in a friendly but competitive spirit. But when taking to the field of play, England have approached Australia with the same relish that a lion would approach a gazelle with a bad leg.
And they must continue to do so. With Stuart Broad out for the rest of the series, whichever bowler replaces him must adopt the team ethic straightaway. While neutrals (and I suspect, a few England fans) may hope for an Australian recovery in Perth to keep the contest alive, England must not countenance the thought for a second. You can sure be sure the great Australian sides of the past would do no such thing.
England have had an excellent 2010, but the house of cards could come crashing down if they don't produce their best in Perth. They must be ruthless. In short, they must be stereotypically Australian. Thus far they have taken advantage of a mediocre Australian side and proven themselves to be their betters. Right now, the Australian team are on the floor. But that's only step one. England must finish the job by stamping on the Australians throats until they pass out.
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