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England should go for the jugular


http://www.holdingwilley.com/player-profile/David-Warner/AustraliaThis is new ground for England fans who grew up watching cricket in the 1990s. We’re 2-0 up in an Ashes series! Apparently this has happened before, and the only time Australia ever overcame such a deficit was when they had Don Bradman. That is enough to extinguish my inner pessimist, and as a result I really don’t know what to think.

Thus far it’s been one close shave and one absolute thrashing. And despite the latter, England are clearly not firing on all cylinders at the moment – those imposing first-innings totals which defined the 2010-11 series remain elusive. Australia, by contrast, are in shambles. Their only redeeming qualities are the ability to get a couple of early wickets and the batting skills of their tail-enders. Given the latter, the news that James Pattinson has been ruled out for the rest of the series shows that when your luck’s against you, it’s really against you.

Over on Twitter (the whole David Warner’s brother thing aside), the Deutscher Cricket Bundhave sent the following message to the Aussies: ‘We are only an hour’s flight from London if you fancy a competitive game?’ Even the Germans have started to take the piss.

As for England, I still find it hard to believe that several key members – the likes of Swann, Trott and Prior – have never played in an England team that’s lost an Ashes series, and such is our current strength in depth that the news that KP might miss the Old Trafford Test through injury is greeted not with alarm bells but a list of four or five batsmen who are on the fringes of the England set-up and/or doing pretty well for their counties right now.

It all seems rather unreal, as though the roles of the 1990s have been reversed. Part of me momentarily wonders what grinding such a weak Aussie team into the dirt will actually prove, given that we won’t be taking on the world number one team until 2015.

And then I remember Steve Waugh batting on and on and on, Glenn McGrath’s many dismissals of Athers and the sight of Shane Warne dancing on the pavilion balcony circa 1997. There was no sympathy from the Australians as they humiliated us time after time, and the fact that they were often beating technically inferior, injury-ravaged outfits did not dilute their crowing triumphalism one bit.

That’s why I want Alastair Cook and company to go for the jugular, give these poor-excuses-for-Aussies the thrashing of their lives and win this series 5-0. It was for so long the Australian way to deal with their opponents by kicking them when they were down, and I’m not the only Englishman who dearly wants my team to return the favour.

Is 5-0 really on the cards? On the basis of what happened at Lord’s, I say that the only thing preventing it is the weather. What’s more, we’ll probably never have as good a chance as this to whitewash the old enemy.

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