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The Ashes: So near but yet so far

Updated: 2013-12-13 07:26
By Tym Glaser ( China Daily)

My green-and-gold cap is washed and ready. The boxes of Arnott's Barbecue Shapes, specifically ordered from Oz, remain tantalizingly unopened. The chilling VBs stare at me from my fridge.

But I won't succumb to temptation - not until that little urn (well, a replica thereof) returns to its rightful trophy the 'G.'.

The third and most crucial cricket Test of this Ashes series bowls off at the WACA in Perth on Friday the 13th (gulp) and the pent-up frustration could all be released after a few days on that fastest of Australian pitches.

England is 2-0 down in the five-Test series and the host needs 'only' a win out west to reclaim the thimble-sized trophy after the near five-year holiday it has spent in the Old Dart.

The Poms have been rattled by pace - particularly the left-arm sling of a revitalized Mitchell Johnson - since touching Down Under. And Perth is no place for a struggling side to get its mojo back, particularly England, which has won only once in 12 times there and that was against a side ravaged by World Series defections in 1978-79.

Still, I'm not writing off the tourists because they simply are not as bad as they have looked in the first two Tests, in Brisbane and Adelaide - and the Aussies probably aren't that good.

The Ashes: So near but yet so far

It's hard to believe the experienced members of the England batting lineup (not including Ian Bell) will continue to falter against pace and that the bowlers - particularly James Anderson and Graeme Swann - will remain in such an apparently jaded state.

Class spinner Swann is under growing pressure to hold his place and coach Andy Flower has mooted changes to the side, but the only likely one to the third Test XI will be bowling all-rounder Tim Bresnan for spinner Monty Panesar.

Meanwhile, Captain Cook II, Kevin Pietersen and keeper Matt Prior are due for runs when they really count - the first innings.

They will face the same fired-up, tight bowling unit which has skittled England for fewer than 200 runs in three of its four innings thus far this tour.

However, holes remain in this resurgent Australian side's batting order as, outside of skipper Michael Clarke, opener David Warner and keeper Brad Haddin, the rest (and that means you, Shane Watson) have underperformed and they will be playing on the same bouncy pitch against a do-or-die attack.

No England team has ever won a series in Oz after going 2-0 down, but that should just provide more motivation for Cook's men. If they manage to come back, it would be historic.

My cap, the 'shapes', the beers, they taunt me - but I won't buckle. Not until the Ashes come home.

Tym Glaser is a senior sports copy editor who might also sip on a nice Barossa red if Australia wins in Perth. He can be contacted at

(China Daily 12/13/2013 page23)