Aussies look to blunt English Ashes momentum
England go into Friday's second Ashes Test fuelled by renewed belief while Australia are seeking solutions to a myriad of problems in a potentially definitive match at the Adelaide Oval.cricket Updated: Dec 01, 2010 10:54 IST
England go into Friday's second Ashes Test fuelled by renewed belief while Australia are seeking solutions to a myriad of problems in a potentially definitive match at the Adelaide Oval.
Andrew Strauss's men have all the Ashes momentum after digging themselves out of a hole to bat their way to a draw at Fortress Gabba, where they haven't beaten Australia in 24 years.
There were recriminations in the opposing camp after Australia relinquished a 221-run innings lead and were unable to stop England from blazing their way to a mammoth 517 for one, their highest innings total in 19 Gabba Tests.
Doubts have intensified over whether Australia's bowlers have the strikepower to take 20 wickets, enough so that pacemen Doug Bollinger and Ryan Harris have been added to the Adelaide squad.
Their inclusion spells the likely demise of Mitchell Johnson, who went wicketless for the first time in his 39 Tests, dropped a catch and made a 19-ball duck in a sorry Gabba performance.
Swinger bowler Ben Hilfenhaus is another under the gun after taking a wicket with his third ball at the Gabba and then going wicketless for his next 50 overs.
"I am not singling anybody out, because all our bowlers weren't at their absolute best in this game and the bowlers are all about working as a group and in partnerships, and I don't think we did that well enough," captain Ricky Ponting said.
"We have a lot of work to do as a group, let alone singling one guy out."
But there is a sense of desperation within the Australian camp with Bollinger not considered to have bowled enough after a recent side strain injury to play in the Gabba Test, while Harris is still feeling the effects of a mid-year knee cartilage operation.
If Ponting had not seen a more docile Gabba pitch in his 15 years then the Adelaide wicket is expected to be even more unforgiving for bowlers given its history of high-scoring Tests.
Adelaide, now 4.5 metres (15 feet) wider after ground redevelopments, has the highest ratio of runs per wicket of any Australian major Test ground and even though England scored 551 for six the last time they played at the ground they were still undone by Shane Warne.
Clearly Australia no longer have a bowler of Warne's calibre, which will embolden England to go after their first win in Adelaide since 1995.
"At the end of day three at the Gabba it wasn't looking good for us," skipper Strauss said.
"To come back in the match and draw it, we've got a belief we can go on and win this series from here."
"There'll be a spring in our step going to Adelaide. But you've got to transfer that onto the pitch."
England have batsmen in form. Alastair Cook posted his highest Test score of 235 not out in Brisbane, Strauss and Jonathan Trott hit centuries and Ian Bell was his team's first innings topscorer with 76.
Paul Collingwood made his highest Test of 206 four years ago in Adelaide and Kevin Pietersen, who contributed 158 in the same match, are due to make their impact on this series.
"We've proved over a while now that we're a hard side to beat and that gives us more confidence going forward," Strauss said.
"When you are in the ascendancy, you've got to take the chance and when you're not you've got to fight to get back into it."
Ponting has a terrific record in Adelaide with five centuries and a near 60 average, while team vice-captain Michael Clarke, who struggled in the first Test scoring just nine and dropping two catches, has three hundreds and two half-centuries in his seven innings at the ground.
Australia will be looking to bounce back after a few days of soul-searching to seek the win they need to put the pressure back on the Ashes holders.