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England seek quick fix to avoid equalling worst run

Wednesday, 22 January 2014 - 8:16am IST | Agency: Daily Telegraph
Another loss on Friday would be 10th in a row Tredwell says players are all backing Cook

Defeat for England here on Friday will mean they have equalled their record losing run of 10 matches in all forms of cricket, adding to the unwanted accolades collected on this traumatic tour. The run stretches back to the one-day international at the Rose Bowl in September.

On a gloomy night, Australia won by 49 runs to seal the NatWest Series, a taste of success that Michael Clarke believes laid the foundations for what has followed. Among the similarities in the record losing streaks of 1993, 2001 and, potentially, 2013-14 are that they included Ashes series defeats and that England were led by Essex men (Graham Gooch, Nasser Hussain and Alastair Cook).

It took an inspirational innings by Mark Butcher in the fourth Test at Headingley in 2001 to stop the rot that year, and it might need something just as extraordinary to win on Friday at the Waca, which has been a house of pain for England down the years. They last beat Australia in a Perth one-dayer in 1987. Their only subsequent victories were in tri-series against subcontinental teams even more susceptible on the bouncy Perth pitches than England.

"We have to believe, don't we, and, if we don't, we're just going to roll over again," James Tredwell said yesterday (Tuesday). "We weren't aware of that [record losing streak] but we are now and obviously we don't want that to be the case. We are going into this game trying to put under the carpet what's gone before and try to work on improving in this game. We can only hope we get a positive result. I guess we've got nothing to lose now and there shouldn't be any fear as we've lost the series."

England will believe they have a chance against a side that will not feature Clarke, David Warner, Shane Watson or Brad Haddin as the selectors rest players with an eye on the tour to South Africa. There is a chance Australia will start to lose focus after sealing the series but one ominous sign is the return of Mitchell Johnson after resting for the one-dayer in Sydney last Sunday.

Johnson flew back to his adopted home city of Perth yesterday brimming with the confidence of a man who the night before had won the Allan Border medal as Australia's player of the year. Australia have named Johnson as vice-captain to motivate him even further on a ground where he has terrorised England in the last two Ashes Tests. "We've been asked if we feel sorry for England, and we've all said no because we've all been through it," Johnson said.

"Fortunately for us, we were able to turn it all around. Hopefully we can win this one-day series 5-0 as well, and send them home without a victory against us." England will be without Boyd Rankin because of a hamstring strain, again ensuring they will be without any of the big fast bowlers who it was originally thought would pepper Australians at the Waca.

Rankin has laboured through three matches, starting with his Test debut in Sydney, as a combination of cramp, nerves and a tight hamstring have raised questions about his fitness and whether he has the mettle for international cricket. Rankin is doubtful, too, for the final one-dayer in Adelaide on Sunday.

That is Australia Day, and heaping more humiliation on England would add to the national celebration. It may not come to that if England can find some confidence. Their batsmen practised the slog sweep yesterday, recognising that they have allowed Australia's spinners to strangle their scoring rate. But at the Waca, sweeping spinners who exploit the extra bounce could be perilous.

Cook drew his team together for a huddle before the training session and Tredwell said: "As captain, it's your team essentially, so when results don't go your way it becomes very tough. Sometimes it's a wrestle to turn that around and I'm sure that's going through his head at the moment but we're all behind him, backing him, and we want our fortunes to change."


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