England meet wounded Aus

Australia are a team in transition, if not yet disarray, and have had pretty much the worst possible preparation for the series after seven successive defeats in all forms of cricket plus injuries and form slumps aplenty. England, by contrast, are on the ascendant but also fully aware that if current form is on their side history is not.

Since World War Two, England have won only four series in Australia. One of those was against a virtual second XI during the rival World Series in 1978-79 and another against a team weakened by defections to rebel tours to South Africa in 1986-87. Still the pressure is firmly on Australian skipper Ricky Ponting, who knows his captaincy, and possibly his Test career, would not survive a third Ashes defeat.

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