Sunday 21 January 2018

Aussies feel more like themselves

SPIRITS are high in Australia's camp after they stopped the rot in the Ashes series by dominating England in the rain-ruined third test at Manchester.

Australia lost the opening two games at Trent Bridge and Lord's, but they were disappointed to come away from Old Trafford with only a draw after having by far the better of the exchanges despite the hosts retaining the Ashes.

"The boys took a lot of confidence from that match," said captain Michael Clarke on the eve of the fourth and penultimate test in County Durham. "We certainly believed that but for the rain, we would have won that test.

"We are taking a lot of positives, guys have scored a lot of runs which is really encouraging and bowlers continue to do a fantastic job for us. The boys are full of confidence now."

Clarke led from the front at Old Trafford by scoring the first Australian century of the series as his team piled up 527 for seven declared in the first innings.

England were bowled out for 368 before slumping to 37 for three in the second innings, but Clarke refused to write off the home team's strong batting line-up.

"It's nice to be getting a few of their top order out cheaply, obviously they are very good players," he said.

Ryan Harris excelled at Lord's and Old Trafford after missing the first test and Clarke is hopes the injury-prone fast bowler is going to be fit to play at Chester-le-Street.

Jackson Bird will make his first appearance of the series if Harris pulls out.

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