Australia great Glenn McGrath has urged Michael Clarke’s tourists to roll their sleeves up and make sure they do everything in their power to turn things around in the Investec Ashes.
A dominant 347-run victory at Lord’s put England 2-0 up in the five-match rubber and in a position to seal the series in the third Test at Emirates Old Trafford, which starts a week today.
Having represented Australia during their era of dominance, McGrath has been understandably disappointed with the performances delivered by the current wearers of the Baggy Green.
In an exclusive interview with the ECB Cricket Podcast, he outlined the need for Australia to dig deep in a bid to remedy the poor form that has resulted in six successive Test defeats.
“I guess it’s disappointing with the way things have gone for the first two Test matches here and I’m sure they (the present team) would agree with me,” said McGrath.
“I’ve been around the boys for the first two and there’s a good energy and a good feeling around the team, so I’m not sure what’s happening out in the middle. It’s now time for them to put their hands up.
“It’s tough watching because I want the boys to do well and I’ve got a lot of respect for the players there and I think they’re good enough to be there.”
Asked what his advice would be to today’s Australian Test team, McGrath added: “Just to get out there and enjoy it. It’s a privilege to play for your country and not something to be taken lightly.
“It doesn’t matter what the situation - just never give up, because you never know. As long as they play with pride, you don’t mind if they lose a couple here and there - as long as they go down with a fight, they don’t just give up and roll over.
“If they fight hard all the way down, put a big price on their wicket, run in as hard as they can when they are bowling and just work as hard as they can in the field. As long as they do that - I’ve got no issues.
“If you keep doing the hard work, sooner or later it’s going to turn around. I think we’ve got the players to do it - there’s no doubt about that. They’ve got the potential, but potential can be a bit of an ugly word sometimes. You have to do it.
“It’s always a lot easier to enjoy it when you’re playing well, isn’t it? When you’re not playing well, things go against you, confidence is down. It’s a fine line, but a big difference.”
An astoundingly accurate operator who claimed 563 Test wickets - more than any other seam bowler - at an average of 21.64, McGrath was also famed for his persistently bullish predictions ahead of Ashes series.
Countless Test rubbers between England and Australia were preceded by the New South Welshmen forecasting a 5-0 scoreline in his team’s favour - and he was proved right when Ricky Ponting’s side secured a whitewash on home soil in McGrath’s final Test at Sydney in January 2007.
Six and a half years on from that encounter, McGrath insists his declarations of confidence were a fair reflection of Australia’s strength at the time.
“I always try and be optimistic and positive, but it was easy when I played,” he explained.
“There were guys like Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting, Matty Hayden, Adam Gilchrist, Shane Warne - I could go through and name every player in the team and those guys fill you with a lot of confidence.
“I always felt if we play as well as we can, no team’s going to get close to us. I couldn’t bring myself to say we’re going to draw a match and the thought of ‘oh we’re going to lose one’ - well, which one are we going to lose? I thought that was far too negative.
“It was easy for me to make those predictions because I honestly believed we could win every game we played.”