Aussies take aim at England’s bid for history

Team looking to seize early momentum with winning record at the Gabba


Afp November 19, 2013
IN HIGH SPIRITS: The English squad gets ready to make history and win a fourth successive Ashes series. PHOTO: AFP

BRISBANE: Australia hope their impregnable record at the Gabba will help them seize early momentum as they bid to stop England completing their best Ashes run in 123 years from Thursday.

Michael Clarke's team went down 3-0 just three months ago in England, leaving them in danger of losing four Ashes series in a row – a fate they have not suffered since 1890.

However, Australia now appear more settled and they will also take heart from their performances at Brisbane’s Gabba ground, where they are unbeaten in a quarter of a century.

The team, strengthening under coach Darren Lehmann, believes it may now be ready to end England’s run of wins in 2009, 2010-2011 and earlier this year.

All-rounder Shane Watson, who must overcome a hamstring injury to play in the first Test, believes Australia need test the endurance of England’s four-man bowling attack.

“That is the way we are going to win the Ashes,” said Watson. “As a batting unit we are going to bat for a long period of time, especially in the first couple of Tests. That is one of our biggest goals.

England are yet to decide on their third seamer to supplement James Anderson and Stuart Broad, but Chris Tremlett, a success on the last Ashes tour here, looks likely to play along with penetrating off-spinner Graeme Swann.

The tourists also have injury concerns, with first-choice wicketkeeper Matt Prior nursing a calf strain and star batsman Kevin Pietersen needing a cortisone injection for a troublesome knee ahead of his 100th Test.

Australia eyes return to the top four in Test rankings

Australia is currently ranked fifth on the table on 101 ratings points, while England is in third position – 15 ratings points ahead, according to an International Cricket Council media release.

Australia can return to the top four by leapfrogging Pakistan if it manages to draw or win the series. Australia can also move ahead of England into third position if it wins the series 4-0 or better.

For England, the series offers an opportunity to reclaim the number two ranking it held till India moved ahead of it last week following its 2-0 win over the West Indies. However, to make that happen, it will have to win the series by 4-0 or better.

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