Ashes inspiration the key for Australia - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Ashes inspiration the key for Australia

By Adam Cooper 01/01/2007 08:34:00 PM Comments (0)

Australia expects to be inspired rather than distracted by a three-man retirement bash starting Tuesday at the SCG when it chases an Ashes series whitewash over England.

Opening batsman Justin Langer confirmed Monday he would join bowlers Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath in farewelling Test cricket after this match, in what will be an emotional and transitional Test for the national team.

Australia has refused to let sentiment get in the way of slaughter, and captain Ricky Ponting was confident the swansongs for the trio, who will depart with a combined 375 Tests between them, could springboard the side to a 5-0 series thumping.

Only eight five-Test series have been won 5-0, and Australia will aim to give its veterans the perfect send-off by recording the second Ashes whitewash after Warwick Armstrong's men thrashed England in 1920-21.

Langer said he had struggled through the fourth Test in Melbourne with retirement weighing on his mind, and Ponting expected all three retirees to enjoy their farewells rather than be encumbered by the occasion.

"Now that Justin has done what he's done today he'll have a bit of a load off his shoulders," Ponting said.

"He can go away and enjoy the day for what it is then get up and just go out and play well tomorrow.

"As long as we all keep our emotions in check, then hopefully the performances that we've been putting on the board can continue."

Australia nearly let the occasion get to it during Steve Waugh's finale in Sydney three years ago, before it escaped with a drawn match and series against India.

Ponting said the retirements had been a potential distraction before the fourth Test, when Warne and McGrath both announced their departures, but on that occasion his side responded with the most emphatic win of the series.

"Although we didn't start the game off brilliantly last week, our last couple of days of that game were terrific," he said.

"You've just got to be conscious of the little distractions that can creep in, but you have to understand your own preparation and make sure you get that right."

Langer, 36, decided to retire after a long fight against the idea, but was pleased to go out on his terms after Damien Martyn, Warne and McGrath.

"As hard as it is and as emotional as it is to not wear the baggy green cap again, I know it's the right thing to do," said one half of Australia's greatest opening partnership (with Matthew Hayden).

McGrath, 36, expected emotion to hit towards the end of his last match at his home ground, and was pleased to share the moment.

"Shane and Justin are two guys I've played most of my cricket with," he said.

"It's like losing part of the family. It will be something special walking off at the end of the match."

England captain Andrew Flintoff again denied claims his side lacked unity in what has been a disastrous tour, and said the tourists had a greater incentive than spoiling Australia's party.

"We want to play well and we want to win a game of cricket," he said.

Forecast rain tomorrow morning means the SCG wicket could retain some extra moisture, which could provide the quicks with extra juice.

However curator Tom Parker expects the ball to turn early, which could prompt England to debut offspinning allrounder Jamie Dalrymple. Paceman Sajid Mahmood would be the likely omission.

The match starts at 10.30am (AEDT).

Australia: Ricky Ponting (capt), Justin Langer, Matthew Hayden, Mike Hussey, Michael Clarke, Andrew Symonds, Adam Gilchrist, Shane Warne, Brett Lee, Stuart Clark, Glenn McGrath, Mitchell Johnson (12th man).

England (likely): Andrew Flintoff (capt), Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Chris Read, Jamie Dalrymple, Steve Harmison, Monty Panesar, Matthew Hoggard.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2024 AAP

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