England plan to give Australia silent treatment

ENGLAND's cricketers are determined not be drawn into a war of words with their Australian rivals following the acrimonious third Test in Perth.

Sources close to the England camp say the tourists lost their focus at the WACA due to an exchange of insults with Australia's bowlers.

England lost by 267 runs after sledger-in-chief Mitchell Johnson stormed back to form with a man-of-the-match display after verbal spats with England captain

Andrew Strauss, Kevin Pietersen and James Anderson.

And Australia pace man Peter Siddle and England wicketkeeper Matt Prior had a heated exchange as tensions between the sides boiled over.

Now England plan to hit Australia with the silent treatment during the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, where victory would see Strauss's men retain the Ashes.

The tourists held clear-the-air talks after their demolition at the WACA and concluded Australia managed to put them off with provocative chatter.

The most serious incident involved Siddle and Prior, the Australian abusing Prior after dismissing him cheaply.

"As I left (the crease) he said something which annoyed me,'' revealed Prior in his newspaper column.

"I doesn't matter what he said, but once you have dismissed somebody you have done the job on them.

"There are not many boxing matches when a guy knocks someone out and then kicks him while he's on the floor.

"That isn't the way it works.''

But Siddle retaliated by saying Prior asked for a fist-fight outside the ground, adding he would have won that battle too.

''Yeah, I think he did (suggest having a fight) in the end," declared Siddle. "But I'd have backed myself in that."

Siddle branded England 'sore losers' and added: ''They're at us and we're at them. It just makes the game a bit more lively, and no doubt the spectators like to see it.

''Ricky (Ponting] knows that's when I can perform at my best and I can get the rest of the boys going.

"I enjoy having some fun with the batters.''

Publicly, England have denied matters in Perth got out of hand.

Pietersen, who managed only 0 and 3 after his brilliant double hundred in Adelaide, passed it off as a storm in a tea cup.

"I've played against Australia, I don't know how many Test matches and, believe me, the first time I played and the second time I came out here, the likes of Warne, McGrath, etc, there were some pretty big verbal contests," he said.

"I haven't seen or heard anything different (in Perth) from what's happened in the first two Tests, let alone last year in England. There are not really any big chirpers or sledgers.

"It's England v Australia, an Ashes series. Blokes get the red mist occasionally; you're allowed to do that. Things happen.

"You're playing for that little urn. It's historic, it's huge.

"But there's nothing that's been overboard, and if things go overboard match referees deal with stuff like that. There's not been anything close to it."

Pietersen admitted England's batsmen were caught cold at the WACA.

The tourists failed to score 200 in either innings as Johnson and Ryan Harris each claimed nine wickets.

Johnson's performance was particularly unexpected.

About as effective as a chocolate fireguard during the first Test in Brisbane and justifiably dropped for the second in Adelaide, Johnson suddenly got the ball to swing into the right-hander at speeds approaching 90mph.

"He took us by surprise, for sure," admitted Pietersen.

"He bowled really well and had a good game of cricket, and we're going to have to prepare ourselves for that swinging ball.

"We knew he could swing it, but we didn't realise he would swing it that much.

"But we will be a lot better prepared in Melbourne, so we will play him a lot better."

Pietersen said England are unconcerned at reports Australia are preparing another fast track.

Strauss's men were glaringly exposed by extra pace and bounce at the WACA, allowing Australia to level the series 1-1.

"They've just had success in Perth on a bouncy wicket, but we've had success around the world on bouncy wickets," stressed Pietersen.

"We lost that Test within half an hour. Five for 20, that's where we lost it. Full, swinging balls knocked over our top order.

"We didn't lose it to a bouncy wicket; we lost it to balls that swung that we didn't prepare ourselves properly for.

"We will be prepared fully for everything come Sunday morning, so I don't think the wicket will play any part."

Injured Australia opener Simon Katich has revealed he is set to make a return in time for the fifth Ashes Test, increasing the pressure on Phillip Hughes to find form in Melbourne.

Katich damaged his Achilles tendon during the second Test defeat in Adelaide and was initially expected to miss the rest of the summer. But the veteran left-hander has revealed that his comeback plans are ahead of schedule and he may be fit for the Sydney Test.