Get ready to crumble… Vibrant England want the Aussies to suffer in final ODI
21:51 GMT, 9 July 2012
England bid a fond farewell to Australia on Tuesday determined to keep their feet firmly on the throats of the old enemy at Old Trafford by putting down one last significant Ashes marker.
Far from considering the last one-day international of this five-match series as a dead rubber, England want to ensure Australia are sent packing 4-0 and with their status as the best team in world 50-over cricket hanging by a thread.
It fell yesterday to Graham Gooch, a man who has experienced many a triumph and disaster against Australia, to emphasise just how important it will be for England to make the most of their domination, even though the wash-out at Edgbaston means they cannot replace the Aussies at the summit of one-day cricket just yet.
Final preparations: England practice ahead of their Old Trafford showdown
'It's always satisfying to beat Australia, you can't lie about that,' said England's record runscorer and now batting coach.
'There are a lot of people, both still playing and retired, who have been on the end of some real hidings from Australia in the past so there will be no letting up in this game. Any match against the Aussies is special, one to be respected, so even though the series has been decided this is a one-off contest that needs to be won.'
Gooch began his England career with a pair against Australia 37 years ago and suffered at the hands of their great sides as well as enjoying the euphoria of the 1981 and 1985 England Ashes successes.
But even a man who has experienced almost everything cannot have seen many more dominant England one-day teams than this one.
All smiles: England are looking to seal a 4-0 series win over their rivals
How they line up
ENGLAND: Cook (capt), Bell, Trott, Bopara, Morgan, Kieswetter (wkt), Patel, Bresnan (or Woakes), Broad, Anderson, Finn.
AUSTRALIA: Warner, Wade (wkt), Forrest, Clarke (capt), Bailey, Hussey, Smith, Johnson, McKay, Pattinson, Starc.
Time: 2pm start.
Umpires: A Dar (Pak) and I Gould (Eng).
'I don't think we use the word easy, do
we' said Gooch, gently admonishing a questioner for pointing out the
huge gulf between these great rivals.
'I don't think anyone in our dressing room is gloating. 'We're just proud of what they've achieved so far and we want them to repeat it here. Australia are a great cricketing nation and every win you can record against them brings more confidence.'
England showed any rotating done today will be limited to the possible appearance of Chris Woakes by releasing Jonny Bairstow so he can play for Yorkshire, a move designed to show an injury-struck, low-on-confidence Australia they mean business.
Then the last memory Australia would have of England before next year's back-to-back Ashes would be an unpleasant one.
Fierce learning curve: Clarke's Australia have been put to the sword by the hosts
This has been a chastening experience for captain Michael Clarke, who looked to have taken Australia to a more advanced stage in their rebuilding programme after two Ashes defeats than an Old Trafford ground resembling a sodden building site yesterday.
The edifice of Clark's Australia is in danger now of crumbling faster than this famous old ground's new stands are going up.
Mickey Arthur, also facing a tough test of his credentials as a South African coach of Australia, read the riot act to his team during a crisis meeting after their capitulation in Durham on Saturday to go 3-0 down and out of the series, and has talked of them being 'submissive' and in need of a 'bit of mongrel'.
Endearing character: But Johnson has been the subject of much flak from the England supporters
Step forward then Mitchell Johnson, who talked of how much he was affected by the Barmy Army's ribbing, particularly when they serenaded him in Sydney at the end of England's 3-1 Ashes success.
Johnson, an endearing, almost vulnerable soul off the pitch, sounded more like a poodle than a hard-bitten mongrel.
'Back then I let all that affect me a lot,' said Johnson, fit again after missing the Durham debacle with a foot injury.
'It's hard not to when all you can hear in the ground is your name being sung and the tune is quite catchy. I was at that point of my career when I was letting things get to me. I expected more stick at The Oval than I got but it's all part of the game. England's guys get stick when they come to Australia, it's just that we're not as good with our songs. I'm past all that now.'
But why have Australia, of all teams, seemed so timid in this series
'I think it's a confidence thing,' said Johnson. 'There are a few young guys in our side with limited international experience. We need that fire in our belly here to prove to ourselves that we're good enough to compete with this England side.'
And, with Brett Lee and Shane Watson both having flown home with injuries, which Mitchell Johnson are we going to see at Old Trafford The inconsistent, wild left-armer glimpsed again in patches at The Kia Oval Or the match-winner who blew England away in the Perth Test last time without really knowing how he did it
'My performances either bring lots of wickets or none at all and I need to get them closer together,' said Johnson.
'It's a lot to do with belief and confidence. There's a lot of talk about my technical faults but it's more of a mental game for me. The crowd, conditions, all play a part. If I can get in the right frame of mind – and I am – then I'll look forward to playing cricket.'
Clearly then England need to ensure Johnson and Australia remain submissive so they can look forward to the more significant battles next year buoyed by a near whitewash in this series.
Altogether now: 'He bowls to the left, he bowls to the right, that Mitchell Johnson…'