England face must-win situation in 3rd Test

Both captains will reach the 100-Test landmark but with hosts 2-0 up, a loss for England will mean Australia win series.

    Cook faces a crucial test of captaincy in his 100th Test as the tourists look to keep the series alive [Getty Images]
    Cook faces a crucial test of captaincy in his 100th Test as the tourists look to keep the series alive [Getty Images]

    With Australia already 2-0 up in the best-of-five series, England must win the crucial third Test starting in Perth on Friday if they are to avoid handing the iconic urn over to the hosts.

    For captains Michael Clarke and Alastair Cook, the occasion has even more importance - both will be playing their 100th Test match for their country.

    Australia have dominated the series so far, recording emphatic wins in Brisbane and Adelaide and are firm favourites to win in Perth, a ground where England have tasted victory just once in 12 games.

    It is a special day and it will make it an even more special week if we can produce the performance that we know we're capable of.

    Alastair Cook, England captain

    The tight turn around between the second and third matches means that Clarke will wait until after the toss on Friday to name his side, giving his players the maximum amount of time possible to prove their fitness.

    Doubts remain over fast bowler Ryan Harris who is carrying a knee injury, while all-rounder James Faulkner has already been ruled out after fracturing his thumb in training.

    Clarke admitted that it was an honour to be on the eve of his 100th Test appearance for his country, but was clear that winning the match - and with it the Ashes - was his main focus.

    Australia have started strongly in both of the first two Tests, and Clarke believes that they will have to produce something similar if they are to win in Perth.

    "I think tomorrow is crucial for us as a team to make sure we start well, that's with the bat or with the ball," Clarke said.

    The tourists have won three Ashes series in succession, and are desperate to avoid the embarrassment of surrendering the urn so meekly.

    Batsman and captain Cook said it was crucial that his side look ahead to the match, rather than focussing on their mistakes of Perth and Adelaide.

    He added that he was confident that they had prepared well, but that now they must perform when the match gets underway.

    Tourists' batting woes

    Like his Australian counterpart, he underplayed the personal importance of reaching his 100th Test, describing it as an honour but not the focus of the week.

    "It is a special day and it will make it an even more special week if we can produce the performance that we know we're capable of," Cook said.

    England were skittled for less than 180 runs in their first three innings before making a stubborn 312 in the last innings in Adelaide, where they were set a huge 531 to win.

    The heavy manner of their two defeats means that changes in their line-up are expected, with Tim Bresnan expected to step in and add some pace to the attack replacing either Graeme Swann or Monty Panesar.

    The fourth Test takes place in Melbourne on Boxing Day (26th December) before the squads move to Sydney for the fifth Test a week later.

    SOURCE: AP


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