Aussies won't go quietly as Old Trafford looms
AUSTRALIA'S position ahead of the third Ashes Test which starts tonight at Old Trafford looks parlous, with a draw good enough for England to retain the urn.
But fast bowler Jimmy Anderson said history had shown the Aussies had a habit of not going quietly.
In the last two Ashes series, England established an early lead, only for Australia to fight back. At Headingley in 2009, England lost the fourth Test by an innings and 80 runs, and at Perth in 2010-11 it lost the second Test by 267 runs, allowing the Aussie to level the series in both cases.
"Most of the guys in the dressing room have experience of Headingley and Perth and, hopefully, we can use that so it doesn't happen again," Anderson said.
"It's been tough so far. We narrowly won at Trent Bridge - it was a very close game there. We won more comfortably at Lord's but we still had our backs against the wall a couple of times - we were 30 for 3 each innings.
"We still have improvements to make and we know how dangerous they can be. Maybe they might be even more dangerous now they have nothing to lose."
While the ground at Old Trafford has been redeveloped since it was overlooked for an Ashes Test in 2009, and the pitch spun through 180 degrees, the expectation is that it will take spin from day three, and also offer reverse swing.
England has not surprisingly added tweaker Monty Panesar to the squad that won the first two matches, and has also called in paceman Chris Tremlett because of the extra bounce he can achieve.
The biggest concern still revolves around the fitness of batsman Kevin Pietersen who has been battling a knee injury. James Taylor has been called in as cover, and showed he would be a capable inclusion by making 121 not out for Sussex in the three-day warm-up match against Australia at Hove.
The Aussies have their own selection heaches, with all-rounder Steve Smith missing training on Tuesday with a back complaint.
Smith made 102 not out against Sussex, but was unable to bowl.
With spinners Nathan Lyon and Ashton Agar picking up just one wicket each against Sussex, Smith's leg breaks would be a valuable addition to the line up at Old Trafford.
The good news was that Michael Clarke, who sat out the warm-up match to rest his troublesome back, was able to train on Tuesday, coach Darren Lehmann saying the skipper would be able to bowl in the third Test if required.
The other selection dilemmas for the Australians revolve around swashbuckling batsman David Warner and paceman Jackson Bird.
Warner put his hand up for a recall by making 193 for Australia A against South Africa A last weekend, while Bird was the pick of the bowlers against Sussex, but may miss out again if Lehmann opts for two spinners and retains fast men Peter Siddle and Ryan Harris from the second Test.
- with Stephen Brenkley from The Independent