England cricket captain Alastair Cook takes a break during the side’s training session at the MCG in Melbourne, Australia,
SYDNEY: Australia are vowing no let-up as they chase an Ashes clean sweep against troubled England, who have been forced to re-jig their line-up after the shock retirement of Graeme Swann just days before the fourth Test in Melbourne.
The off-spinner -- sixth on England’s all-time list of Test wicket-takers -- on Sunday dropped a bombshell when he announced his immediate departure from international and first-class cricket, with the home side 3-0 up in the five-match series.
Little has gone right for England Down Under. The tourists arrived in Australia as favourites just months after winning the Ashes 3-0 on home soil but lost them inside 14 playing days -- stunned by the home side’s aggressive approach.
Swann’s abrupt exit follows batsman Jonathan Trott’s return home with a stress-related illness after the first Test and major questions hang over the form of senior players -- captain Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen, Jimmy Anderson and Matt Prior.
Swann pointed to internal problems, saying: “Some people playing the game at the minute have no idea how far up their own backsides they are.
“It will bite them on the arse one day and when it does I hope they look back and are embarrassed about how they carry on.”
England are battling to avoid a repeat of the 5-0 Ashes whitewash in Australia in 2006/07 following heavy losses in the first three Tests in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.
Darren Lehmann, who has masterminded Australia’s dramatic turnaround after their defeat in England in July and August, wants his team to go for the jugular in the match starting on Thursday.
“I only worry about us. That’s how we deal with it and that’s all we can do,” Lehmann said. “I’m sure they weren’t worried about us last time either (when Australia lost in England).
“They have a good coach and good support staff -- I’m sure they’ll work through all those issues.
“Our point of view is to play the brand of cricket to win us cricket games and obviously it has been quite aggressive out there from both sides. It’s good, hard Ashes cricket.”
Left-arm spinner Monty Panesar is expected to replace Swann for the Melbourne Test, in front of an anticipated world record first-day crowd. The current record of 90,800 was set in the 1961 Test between Australia and the West Indies.
Panesar suffered in the second Test in Adelaide, where England played two spinners, returning combined figures of two for 198 and he will come under pressure from the Australian batsmen keen to get on top and dictate.
Seamer Tim Bresnan, who took six wickets in the corresponding Test on the 2010/11 tour as England retained the Ashes, admitted it will be tough halting Australia’s momentum.
“As soon as a side gets in front there’s virtually no way back,” he said. “We have pulled off some special comebacks over the years but against this team right now, they’re going for the jugular straight away, which was what we were doing (to them) last summer.”
Meanwhile, Leg-spinner Scott Borthwick and off-spinner James Tredwell have been added to the England Test squad for the remainder of the Ashes series following Swann’s surprise retirement, the country’s cricket board said yesterday.
Durham leg-spinner Borthwick, 23, arrived in Melbourne yesterday and will be available for selection for the Boxing Day Test, the England and Wales Cricket Board said in a statement.
The 31-year-old Tredwell, who played his only Test for England in March 2010 against Bangladesh, will join the squad during the fourth Test and will be available for selection for the fifth and final match in Sydney, starting on January 3.