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England fears of Ashes whitewash grow

England skipper Joe Root was optimistic following the second Test, but some former players disagree

Former captains Bob Willis and Michael Vaughan believe England are heading towards a 5-0 Magellan Ashes defeat after losing the second Test in Adelaide.

Willis said the tourists' lack of competitiveness for most of the first two matches has proved Australia are the superior side.

"England are fighting as hard as they can, but the bald fact is they are up against a better side in these conditions," Willis told the UK's Sky Sports.

"The glaring differences are that Australia have express pace in the seam department and a world-class spinner. We have neither.

"At this rate, you wouldn't be surprised if it was 5-0, as Adelaide probably represented England's best chance to chalking up a victory."

The best highlights from Adelaide Test

England began day five at Adelaide Oval on Tuesday with a chance to steal victory having bowled themselves back into the match, only to lose their final six wickets in the first session for a 120-run loss.

It followed their 10-wicket hammering in Brisbane in the opener.

Vaughan, the leading run-scorer in the losing 2002-03 tour of Australia, suggested England had neither the skill nor resilience to win a match.

He said England competed strongly only when their backs were to the wall.

"This was the week we all fancied England to take something from," Vaughan told the BBC.

"In Perth, the ball won't swing like this.

"We are now looking at - like we did in 2013, like we did in 2006-07 - you look at this England side, and realistically, can you see them winning a Test match?

"How do you win Test matches with those kinds of scores? You haven't got 20 wickets yet. I think it's going to be very difficult to win a Test match on this tour."

Day wrap: Australia storm to 2-0 series lead

England captain Joe Root has insisted this series did not resemble the lopsided 5-0 thumping that unfolded in Australia four years ago.

"We showed throughout the two games for periods that we can outperform Australia," he said.

"I don't think that we're as unevenly matched."

 
Recapping Day 5 in Adelaide... A post shared by Kevin Pietersen (@kp24) on

Meanwhile, England great Ian Botham has called for star allrounder Ben Stokes' selection for the third Test in Perth.

Stokes was named in the one-day international squad on Thursday but is on the sidelines for the Test series as he awaits a UK prosecutors' decision on whether to charge him for his involvement in a brawl.

"I would play the strongest side and that includes Ben," Botham told Fox Sports.

"He would be the X-factor that might shake things up. England need to act and act quickly."

Sizzling Starc ends England, collects five-fer

Writing for the UK's Telegraph, Geoffrey Boycott offered a similarly dismal forecast.

"Let’s be brutally honest," Boycott wrote." For the all the upbeat talk from our players and the hopes and expectations from our supporters, Australia are better than us.

"The Ashes are gone. We are not coming back from 2-0 down. England will have a massive job avoiding a 5-0 thrashing.

"England have no pace to hurt or unsettle Australia's batsmen. James Anderson and Stuart Broad are good with the new ball but so are Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins.

"When the Kookaburra ball loses its hardness and shine, Australia can still attack and unsettle our batsmen with pace and short balls."

Meanwhile, Jonathan Agnew said he was be surprised if England won in Perth.

"Root says his side are "massively in the series". I'm not sure about that, but there are certainly differences from this side to the one whitewashed in 2006-07 and again in 2013-14," Agnew wrote for the BBC.

"One is Root himself - a young, ambitious, hungry captain leading a group of like-minded players trying to prove themselves. He's respected by the players and is a steely character.

"Now, in what is an enormous test of his captaincy, he has to show leadership.

"Can England avoid the defeat in Perth that would hand Australia the Ashes? History is against them, having not won at the WACA since 1978."

2017-18 International Fixtures

Magellan Ashes Series

Australia Test squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird.

England Test squad: Joe Root (c), James Anderson (vc), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Mason Crane, Tom Curran, Ben Foakes, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ben Stokes, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Chris Woakes.

First Test Australia won by 10 wickets. Scorecard

Second Test Australia won by 120 runs (Day-Night). Scorecard

Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Tickets

Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Tickets

Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Tickets

Gillette ODI Series v England

First ODI MCG, January 14. Tickets

Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Tickets

Third ODI SCG, January 21. Tickets

Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Tickets

Fifth ODI Perth Stadium, January 28. Tickets

Prime Minister's XI

PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Tickets

Gillette T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series

First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Tickets

Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Tickets

Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Tickets

Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 14

Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16

Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18

Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21