Ashes ‘gloves are off’, say jubilant Aussie press

Perth: Jubilant Australian media on Monday said the "gloves are off" for the rest of the Ashes after the home team roared back to level the series against England.

A Sydney based daily said Australia had rediscovered their "mongrel", or fighting spirit, in the shock 267-run win which tied the series 1-1 with two to play.

"Gloves are off," read the tabloid`s banner front-page headline.

"Bring on the Boxing Day Test -- Ricky Ponting`s boys have got their mongrel back," the paper said. "Like punch-drunk fighters rising from the canvas, the Australians are now favourite to win the Ashes."

Australia were written off after an innings loss in Adelaide, but stunned their arch-rivals with a snarling revival led by recalled fast bowler Mitchell Johnson, who took nine wickets and hit a first-innings half-century.

The home team`s joy was tempered by a broken finger suffered by captain Ponting, leaving question marks over his participation in the next game starting on December 26 in Melbourne.

Another newspaper said the win evoked Australia`s glory days when the team swept to 16 successive Test victories.

"Aussies back in town," the headline read.

"His (Ponting`s) revved-up team heads to Melbourne with the spirit and unity that swept Australia to a world-record 16 consecutive victories a decade ago," wrote journalist Will Swanton.

Columnist Malcolm Conn hailed the home side`s "courage under fire", as well as Johnson and groundsman Cam Sutherland, whose bouncy pitch was credited with the win.

"For Australia to bounce back so emphatically after the humiliation of Adelaide and trounce England in the third Test at Perth`s WACA Ground in little more than three days was a display of immense character," he wrote.

"For all the great performances in this match, most notably Mitchell Johnson`s transformation from chump to champ in the space of a few net and fitness sessions, the person who deserves the most credit is curator Cam Sutherland," he added.

"He has spent five years nursing the WACA Ground`s once renowned wicket back to life."

However, Conn noted that England still hold the whip hand as they need only to draw the series to retain the coveted trophy. "Australia must repeat its Perth performance at least one more time while keeping England winless to regain the precious urn," he cautioned.

Jamie Pandaram said the result had cast doubts over England`s mental strength.

"Australia`s thumping, by 267 runs, of Andrew Strauss`s team inside four days at the WACA Ground has also raised some serious doubts about England`s mettle," he wrote.

"The same players who tormented the hosts for eight days of play before the third Test are now searching for answers regarding their feeble capitulation."

Bureau Report

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