Strauss warns of Australia riposte

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Alastair Cook, James Anderson, Jonathan Trott & Andrew Strauss

Captain Andrew Strauss, right, has warned his team-mates: "This is going to be five days of hard, tough Test cricket"

Andrew Strauss is preparing his team for an Australia backlash, as England seek the victory in Perth which would mean the Ashes are in safe keeping before Christmas.

The WACA has been anything but a happy hunting ground for touring England teams of the past 30 years, so it would be a major achievement indeed if Strauss' men could retain the urn there.

That, though, is just the sort of talk the captain and team director Andy Flower are urging their charges to ignore.

Instead, England will be under orders to concentrate exclusively on the here and now - rather than its consequences and implications - in their attempt to go 2-0 up with two to play.

"This is going to be five days of hard, tough Test cricket - with Australia coming at us very hard. I've got no doubt about that,” Strauss predicted.

"They are a proud cricketing nation, and they wouldn't have liked the way they were beaten in Adelaide.

"We're expecting a bit of a backlash from them - and we've got to be strong enough to withstand that and come out the other side."

Andrew Strauss & Ben Hilfenhaus

Strauss is wary of England's defeat at Headingley last year when victory would have won the Ashes

England's Headingley Carnegie defeat on the way to their 2009 Ashes series win has been on many lips this week, and Strauss also recalls the resounding defeat in Johannesburg at the start of this year - which followed a nail-biting draw in Cape Town and meant that series was shared.

"The easiest thing for us to do is to learn from our previous mistakes," he said.

"Everyone talks about Headingley against Australia last time and, to a certain extent, the Wanderers against South Africa.

"There have been times when we've been on top, had a good performance and haven't followed it up. That is at the back of our minds.

"We're a confident side, and I'm pleased with what we've achieved so far. But everyone has made a conscious effort to keep their feet on the ground."

Last weekend’s draw against Victoria provided little entertainment for spectators at the MCG.

But for England, Strauss thinks it might have been just what was required - a reality check after the elation of an innings victory in the second Test in Adelaide.

"The game in Melbourne was a bit of a comeback, down to earth,” he revealed.

"It was tough cricket on an unresponsive wicket, and we had to dig a bit on that last day to make sure we got something out of the game."

Andrew Strauss & Aaron Finch

Strauss revealed England's draw with Victoria at the MCG "was a bit of a comeback, down to earth”

Strauss is unsure what conclusions Australia might have come up with as they pondered the reasons for their defeat. But he does know they will not have been idle.

"Australia would have gone and looked at their plans for our batsmen, having spent a lot of time in the field against us,” he added.

"They will be wondering whether they've gone about things right so far.

"They may go the same route, or they may look at things slightly differently - we've got to be ready for both."

England are well aware the WACA's reputation for extra bounce means their batsmen must be on their guard.

"The most important thing is about adapting well to the conditions here - which will be a challenge, because they are different to Adelaide," said Strauss.

"If they do come at us with the short stuff then we've got to be ready for it.

"They bowled a bit of short stuff to (Alastair) Cook, (Jonathan) Trott and (Kevin) Pietersen at Adelaide.

"I think the crucial thing is not to be surprised by anything on the day. Preparation has to be about being ready for anything - and we will be."

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