Kevin Pietersen today claimed England would secure the Ashes before Christmas if they repeat the stunning performance that sealed victory over Australia in Adelaide today and banished the demons of four years ago.
England lead 1-0 in with only three Tests remaining, meaning the urn will be retained if they triumph in the Third Test in Perth, which begins on 16 December. Australia were finished off ruthlessly at the Adelaide Oval, England sealing their 100th Ashes Test win, and their biggest in Australia since 1966, by an innings and 71 runs.
It was a complete contrast from 2006, when England contrived to lose the Test despite scoring 551 for six declared in the first innings and were whitewashed 5-0 in the series.
“If we go to Perth, play good cricket and do not get complacent, then we will keep the Ashes,” said Pietersen, who was named man of the match for his Test-best 227 in England’s only innings. “We have to keep doing the right things.
“What a sad place the dressing room in Adelaide was four years ago. It was horrible to walk back in there. It was quiet, negative and not as united as today.
“It’s an amazing feeling to go 1-0 up in an Ashes series after being so bad here four years ago. Our bowlers were superb and then the batsmen filled their boots on days two and three.”
The tourists’ joy was dampened by the news that Stuart Broad will miss the rest of the tour with a torn abdominal muscle sustained yesterday. Broad is due to fly to Melbourne at midnight with the rest of the squad and he is likely to begin his rehabilitation programme there before returning to England at the end of the week. Chris Tremlett, Ajmal Shahzad and Tim Bresnan will compete for his spot.
Andrew Strauss is on the brink of becoming the first England captain since Mike Gatting in 1986-87 to lead a successful Ashes campaign, but this was his first Test win as an England player in Australia - as it was for every other member of his team.
Strauss’ thoughts will now turn to Melbourne, where England face Victoria in a three-day tour match starting on Friday. Bresnan, Shahzad and Tremlett will all play at the MCG, while Jimmy Anderson was due to fly back to England today to attend the birth of his second child. The plan is for him to rejoin the squad in Perth on Monday.
“It was a special victory for us and it exorcised some of the demons from four years ago,” said Strauss. “It’s important we don’t let Australia back in the series now.
“Stuart Broad is distraught and we are devastated for him, but the show moves on. In Melbourne, we will see which of the three bowlers looks the most potent and the most suited for Perth.”
Australia have injury worries of their own, with Simon Katich’s torn Achilles ruling him out for the rest of the series. Phil Hughes should replace him at the top of the order and, with Ponting due to meet chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch earlier today, Marcus North, Xavier Doherty and Doug Bollinger all face the axe.
Captain Ricky Ponting said: “England out-batted, out-bowled and out-fielded us for the entire game. They are dealing better with the pressure than we are and we have to change that.
“I have to make some runs as well. To make nine in two innings on that wicket is nowhere near good enough for me.”
Tom Collomosse is the cricket correspondent for the Evening Standard