Melbourne: England will not be intimidated by a Melbourne Cricket Ground packed with a hostile Australian crowd for the fourth Ashes Test, captain Andrew Strauss said on Saturday.
The test gets underway on Sunday and officials have talked up the possibility of a record attendance for a cricket ground at the cauldron-like MCG on the first day.
Strauss`s counterpart, Ricky Ponting, took a psychological swipe at England`s youthful side, saying he thought they could find the atmosphere intimidating with the five-Test series delicately poised at 1-1.
"I`m sure he does," Strauss said of Ponting following England`s final training session at the MCG. "I don`t think we will, no. One of the things that`s important is that you`re ready for it and you`re not surprised by it."
"It`s going to be quite a big spectacle and it`s out of the ordinary. We don`t usually play in front of that number of people."
England, like Australia, will delay naming their side until before the toss on Sunday as they wait to gauge how the pitch develops.
Strauss said the look of the wicket had given reasons for England to be optimistic about their chances following their struggles at Perth, where their batsmen were skittled cheaply in both innings on the WACA`s quick deck.
"These conditions shouldn`t be that alien for us and should suit our style of play," he said.
"I think Graeme Swann will come into the game more than he did in Perth, so there`s plenty of reasons for us to be optimistic about this game."
"I can`t think of anything better than to come over and win the Boxing Day Test. That would be a very good feather in all of our caps."
Strauss ruled out the possibility of Ian Bell being promoted above the out-of-form Paul Collingwood in the batting order, but was more cagey about England`s bowling lineup.
England`s seamers appeared tired at Perth after being forced to bowl two innings in relatively quick succession, sparking calls for youngster Steve Finn, who was costly at the WACA, to be rested for Melbourne.
Tim Bresnan has been favoured to come into the side, should Finn be omitted.
"Finny`s done some really good things on this tour, taken quite a few wickets. He was probably a bit expensive at Perth if we`re honest, but he`s young and he`s learning," Strauss said.
"We`re going to have think about what that best balance is before tomorrow and we`ll be naming the side at the toss."
Strauss reinforced the curator`s message earlier in the week that the first morning would be crucial on a damp wicket and batsman would need patience to survive through to lunch.
"You`ve got to be prepared to suck it in a little bit, absorb some pressure for a while and hopefully come out the other side as a batting unit," he said.
"The general consensus at the MCG is that if you go too hard at it too early, you`re going to be back in the hut."