Adelaide: England go into Friday’s second Ashes Test fuelled by renewed belief while Australia are seeking solutions to a myriad of problems in a potentially definitive match at the Adelaide Oval.
Andrew Strauss’s men have all the Ashes momentum after digging themselves out of a hole to bat their way to a draw at Fortress Gabba, where they haven’t beaten Australia in 24 years.
There were recriminations in the opposing camp after Australia relinquished a 221-run innings lead and were unable to stop England from blazing their way to a mammoth 517 for one, their highest innings total in 19 Gabba Tests.
Doubts have intensified over whether Australia’s bowlers have the strikepower to take 20 wickets, enough so that pacemen Doug Bollinger and Ryan Harris have been added to the Adelaide squad.
Their inclusion spells the likely demise of Mitchell Johnson, who went wicketless for the first time in his 39 Tests, dropped a catch and made a 19-ball duck in a sorry Gabba performance.
Swinger bowler Ben Hilfenhaus is another under the gun after taking a wicket with his third ball at the Gabba and then going wicketless for his next 50 overs.
“I am not singling anybody out, because all our bowlers weren’t at their absolute best in this game and the bowlers are all about working as a group and in partnerships, and I don’t think we did that well enough,” captain Ricky Ponting said.
“We have a lot of work to do as a group, let alone singling one guy out.”
But there is a sense of desperation within the Australian camp with Bollinger not considered to have bowled enough after a recent side strain injury to play in the Gabba Test, while Harris is still feeling the effects of a mid-year knee cartilage operation.
If Ponting had not seen a more docile Gabba pitch in his 15 years then the Adelaide wicket is expected to be even more unforgiving for bowlers given its history of high-scoring Tests.