Sydney: After months of misery and recrimination, Australia rejoiced in the rebirth of “Aussie mongrel” and a thumping Ashes victory over England on Monday.
The victory by 267 runs in Perth on Sunday to square up the five Test series was satisfying enough, but the fast-bowling, wicket-scattering, heavy-sledging manner of it clearly struck a chord deep in the Australian psyche.
“Gloves are off: Aussies unleash ‘mongrel’ to beat Poms,” was the front page splash on Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, The Australian echoing the sentiment with its “Australia has fire back in its belly.”
“Bring on the Boxing Day Test - Ricky Ponting’s boys have got their mongrel back,” read the front page lead in the Telegraph. “Like punch-drunk fighters rising from the canvas, the Australians are now favourites to win the Ashes.”
The fractured finger that may prevent skipper Ricky Ponting playing in the fourth Test in Melbourne starting on December 26 failed to temper the plaudits.
“Ponting’s team won because it dared to play Australian cricket. It is a culture, not a civilisation,” wrote Peter Roebuck in Melbourne’s The Age daily.
“His flingers pounded away, his fieldsmen pounced, his batsmen attacked. Nothing tame or apologetic was offered.
“England made the mistake of trying to meet fire with fire. Previously composed, the tourists became ragged and flustered...”
In The Australian, Malcolm Conn paid tribute to the role played by WACA groundsman Cam Sutherland in preparing a pitch that allowed the four-strong Australian pace attack to prosper.
“He has spent five years nursing the WACA Ground’s once renowned wicket back to life,” he wrote.
“Hard, fast and true for decades, it became a neglected pudding which was handed to Sutherland for resurrection.”
Whether the rejuvenated Mitchell Johnson and his fast-bowling partners Ryan Harris, Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle will reprise their collective role in Melbourne remains to be seen.
Spin-bowling great Shane Warne cautioned against picking a pace quartet, calling instead for a Test debut for left-arm spinner Michael Beer.
“There will definitely be a spinner in Melbourne, it is a drop-in wicket, it is flat and as we saw in the England tour match against Victoria it is hard work for the fast bowlers, it really is a new-ball wicket,” Warne told the Herald Sun.
“A spinner will come in, but I am not sure who for. It has to be Beer who comes in...”
Australia need at least a win and a draw in the final two matches of the series to wrest back the Ashes and some were cynical about the hosts’ incredible turnaround from an innings defeat to England in Adelaide last week.
“This is all rigged just to ensure that the Boxing Day Test is a sell out,” a “Mr Bean” of Melbourne posted on the Herald Sun’s website.