Sydney: Buoyant England will go into the final Ashes Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Monday intent on wrapping up their first series triumph in Australia for nearly quarter of a century.
As holders, Andrew Strauss`s team are already guaranteed to keep hold of the Ashes after thumping Australia by an innings and 157 runs in the fourth Melbourne Test to take a 2-1 series lead with just one match to play.
But despite England`s dominance throughout most of the series, the home side can still pull level at 2-2 under stand-in skipper Michael Clarke if they can turn around their miserable form and win in Sydney.
Strauss is aware that the tourists still have work to do as they seek to become the first English team since Mike Gatting`s men in 1986/87 to win a series Down Under.
"Winning the Ashes in Australia has always been a bit of a Holy Grail for English sides," Strauss said. "Our objective was to come out here and win the series, so we haven`t achieved that yet.”
"It`s very reassuring to know that the Ashes are going to remain in England for the next couple of years, but it would leave a very sour taste if we weren`t able to go on and convert our position into a series win in Sydney."
England outplayed Australia in all departments at the Melbourne Cricket Ground to highlight the sorry state of Australian cricket.
Clarke will replace the injured Ricky Ponting and lead Australia for the first time at Test level in Sydney.
X-rays revealed that Ponting had further damaged a fractured little left finger suffered earlier in the series while playing in the fourth Test.
Ponting`s absence in Sydney could dampen incessant speculation over his Test future.
"I`m honoured. It`s for this Test match and hopefully we can get Punter (Ponting) right as soon as possible," Clarke said.
"No doubt (England) are playing really good cricket but it`s a great opportunity for us. It`s a huge Test match."