Pommie champs turn on their own
LESS than four months ago, England captain Alastair Cook and his men were the toast of their country, having just beaten Australia 3-0 at home to claim the Ashes for a third consecutive time.
And everyone was predicting another whitewash in the five-match series to be played in Australia.
Former champion all-rounder Sir Ian Botham said he had no doubt it would be 5-0 Down Under. During a charity walk in Sri Lanka last month, he said the best Australia could hope for was to draw one Test.
"I don't see them winning a game, to be honest," he said. "I can perhaps see them drawing a game if they get lucky with the conditions. I've been going with 5-0 all along.
"Allan Border, who is joining me later on this walk, said he was looking forward to convincing me Australia are going to win. I said to him, 'It'll be a short conversation then'.
"We will bat and bat and bat like last time. They have a few players, but that won't be enough."
After two drubbings in the first two Tests of the latest series, Botham still thinks the result will be 5-0, but with the England team going winless.
"England have got to think about where they are going to go and say 'how much do you want it boys? Do you want to go home 5-0 or do you want to make a fight of it?'" Botham told Sky Sports ahead of the third Test starting in Perth on Friday.
"That's the question you've got to be asking the dressing room now. Australia wanted this so much. They've lost the last three series. England had a chance to set a record and Australia weren't going to let them do it.
"From what I've seen here, they are the side who want it. They are the most hungry of the two sides. They want the victory and they are going out there and they are playing accordingly."
Botham isn't the only former England player who has jumped on the Australian bandwagon.
Former skipper Michael Vaughan, who has spent most of the year deriding the Aussie team, tweeted after Adelaide: "Brilliant from Australia... Seriously this will be 5-0 unless something drastic changes in the England dressing room very soon."
And former opener Geoffrey Boycott, in Australia to commentate on the series, told BBC Sport that wholesale changes were needed to the team that topped the world Test rankings as recently as 2011.
"I think the glory days have gone," he said. "Sometimes you need a change and you have to be strong enough to make the changes. It doesn't last forever.
"We've had three series we've won comfortably. We're going to get annihilated in this one because I think their mind isn't right. I don't think they're there as a team.
"I think it's beginning to unravel."