Australia lead 3-0 © Getty Images
Australia lead 3-0 © Getty Images

Australia are not done yet. Domination means amputation to them. They will pound England until they have no memory of cricket. The openers will bat like a No. 11 batter, and the No. 11 will hold a bat like he never did in his life. The bowlers will hurl like a rookie baseball thrower. Then there always are words that sting like a dart in the flesh. Sledges will hurt until they tremble with fear. To piece things back into perspective, Australia will not rest on their laurels until the scoreline reads 5-0.

“I don’t like seeing close games when it’s against England. I just want to see them get thumped,” Mitchell Johnson had told media after training with Big Bash team Perth Scorchers at the WACA.

Johnson was the destroyer-in-chief when England were burnt to the ashes in the 2013-14 series. He meant what he said. There’s no half-heartedness.

The only respite for England in the Boxing Day Test would be the absence of Mitchell Starc who has taken 19 wickets at 21.05 — the most in the 2017-18 Ashes. Starc himself revealed to the media that he has withdrawn from the fourth Test due to a bruised heel. Jackson Bird will take his spot to continue Australia’s flying form.

Starc, however, fired a verbal bouncer at James Anderson who had last week said that Australia do not have much options beyond their first-choice pace attack that comprises Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, and Starc himself. “It’s quite humorous actually. They haven’t taken 20 wickets in the series and we have, and they’re having a crack at our depth.”

Starc backed Bird, stating that he does not like facing him in the nets. “I don’t like facing Jacko in the nets, so I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do to the English batters throughout this Test match. He’s been awesome through Shield cricket this year, been doing it for a number of years so he definitely deserves his chance this week and I’m looking forward to it.”

Starc had to bounce back to the topic of belittling England. “At the moment we’re ahead in the series and playing some really good cricket, so if they want to keep changing their tactics whether verbally or trying to get in the media as well, for us we’ll keep playing good cricket on the field, hopefully it’ll be 4-0 by the end of the week and they won’t have too much else to say.”

David Warner, on the other hand, has not had a good series with the bat, but seldom does he stay away from war of words. ” We don’t dwell on what he (Anderson) says at all. He can fire those barbs at us. When you do bowl 145kph plus, you tend to get a couple of injuries. Everyone has had their fair share of injuries. Analysing the depth of his bowling attack. Our depth is fantastic, we know what Australian cricket has to offer. I just think England aren’t used to having or producing fast bowlers.”

The poor visitors

England’s thrashing at Perth was their 18th defeat in 23 Tests in Australia this century. On the other hand, Australia have been on the doorstep of defeat in 11 of 25 Tests in England. Australia’s loss percentage of 44 is by all means better than England‘s 78, proving that the Englishmen have been poor visitors Down Under. Michael Vaughan told BBC that “England struggling in Australia is a common trend”.

Cook needs to Broaden his game

Alastair Cook has 83 runs at 13.8 and Stuart Broad 5 wickets at 61.8. England would have been on the other side of the result had Cook’s average read 61.8 and Broad’s 13.8. That, however, is not the case, and the veterans need to rise above their troubled times. Both have been on this topsy-turvy journey before, and if they do not make amends, you know the predictions…

And to make matters worse, the in-form Craig Overton will miss the Test due to fractured rib sustained at the WACA. He has sniped 6 wickets and scored an unbeaten 41 in two Tests.

Malan knows the business better

Mark Stoneman, James Vince, and David Malan — the newcomers — had averaged below 30 before the series, and after three Tests, they have more runs than Cook, Joe Root, and Moeen Ali. Speaking after the Perth Test ambush, Malan stressed on the importance of being aggressive. “I think that whether you’re batting or bowling or fielding, you have to be aggressive. It doesn’t mean you have to chirp or get in people’s faces, but when you bat, you have to look to score runs; when you bowl, look to take wickets.”

There is not iota of doubt that Australia will be at England’s throat. They already own the urn, but they won’t loosen up until they whitewash them. England will have to inhibit themselves from reacting, so they douse the fired-up Australians.

Australia XI - David Warner, Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith (c), Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird.

England XI - Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Joe Root (c), Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Tom Curran, Stuart Broad, James Anderson.

TIME: 05:00 IST | 23:30 GMT