England ‘will be unable to raise their game’

Australia can sense England are being worn down as their miserable Ashes tour reaches its conclusion.

Alastair Cook’s team will suffer a 5-0 whitewash unless they can somehow stop their hosts in the final Test in Sydney.

Australia wicketkeeper-batsman Brad Haddin appears to think that sort of revival is unlikely because, he believes, England are betraying all the classic signs of a team no longer able to raise their game.

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Haddin has been one of the major stumbling blocks for the tourists, passing 50 five times in the series, and missing little behind the stumps either.

Asked how England may be coping after their run of defeats, the Australia vice-captain said: “I don’t think they’re in a great place, to be perfectly honest.

“I think you can probably tell a bit of that in their fielding the other day.

“I think that’s the first thing to go when you’re struggling a bit.

“All those little ‘one-per-centers’ are the first thing to go when you’re struggling as a team.”

The onus is on England to prove Haddin wrong, and he is happy to keep it that way.

“They can ask themselves those questions,” he said. “They’re the only ones who can come up with the answers.”

Even more so than Haddin, Mitchell Johnson has been England’s biggest problem this winter with 31 wickets already.

He is determined to finish the job in Sydney.

“Definitely there was talk at the start in England’s Ashes series over there that it was going to be 5-0 the other way – so we’re very pumped, very motivated,” said Johnson.

“We’re really keen, we’re all striving to go 5-0 here.”

Australia have dominated all but day one of the opening Test and then the first innings of the fourth – and the way they fought back to trounce England after all in Melbourne last week is symptomatic, according to Johnson, of their vast improvement in a short space of time.

“Alastair Cook and (Michael) Carberry came out, and they were basically none for 100 in that second innings,” he said.

“In the past we would have definitely rolled over and lost that match.

“We know we’ve got to do all the hard work still, start from scratch - so I guess we’re going to play this as a final.”

There will be no backward step either, if he suspects Kevin Pietersen – or any other England batsman – is trying to slow-time him out in the middle.

That was Johnson’s conclusion when he was made to wait several times at the MCG while Pietersen attended to litter strewn across the square and other apparent distractions.

The fast bowler eventually snapped, throwing the ball in Pietersen’s general direction – but not threateningly close – after he had to pull out as he neared his delivery stride.

It transpired a small child was crawling in front of the sightscreen on that occasion.

Even so, Johnson will be sticking to his guns.

“The only thing I regret is throwing the ball,” he said. “I think that was probably a little bit inappropriate, but the rest of it was fine.

“I just let him know that he needed to stop doing it.

“The sightscreens are big enough – he should be watching the game. I won’t back down if it happens again.”