Kasprowicz: Aussies are ready
Australia fast bowler Michael Kasprowicz admits old foes England are in an enviable position ahead of next week's Ashes decider at The Oval.
England lead the series 2-1 and need just to avoid defeat to win the Ashes for the first time since the 1986-87 series Down Under.
Australia have one final two-day game against Essex at Chelmsford over the weekend to prepare for a match they must win to keep the Ashes for a ninth successive series.
Kasprowicz, a former Essex player, said: “We are going into that final Test knowing we have to win so it's a good situation for England to be in.
“We like to play attacking cricket and will be going flat out hoping that England might falter.
“If you think about just drawing a game, it can go against you.”
The 33-year-old, who played in the second and fourth Tests in place of the injured Glenn McGrath, accepts that England's strategy has reaped rewards throughout the series.
He added: “They've played exceptionally well. They've had some great plans and gone out and executed those things very well and been on top of their game throughout.”
However, he did issue a warning to the home side by claiming that his team-mates were yet to hit their peak.
He said: “I think in amongst all of us we know that we haven't quite been there yet.
“There have been levels of it on the way and the fact that we are still actually coming into this Test with a chance of retaining the Ashes is a plus. We know there is more there.
“We've been a little slow to adjust to the conditions over here but within the team there is a good belief in ourselves and our mates and we all know that we are playing for a side that has done it all before and won games from some pretty crazy positions.”
Kasprowicz was unable to shed any light on the prospect of fellow quickie McGrath leading the new-ball attack in next week's final showdown.
McGrath was forced to miss the last Test at Trent Bridge with an elbow injury and is still a doubt.
“I'm not sure how he's placed,” he said. “We obviously need him to come good. He's got 500 Test wickets so he'd be handy and we will obviously be giving him every chance to be fit for Thursday.”
The Queenslander also revealed that he too is carrying a slight injury although that will not rule him out of next week's match if called upon.
He said: “It's just a bit of tennis elbow in my right arm. For example when I turn a doorknob or turn the showers or hold things it hurts a bit, everything apart from fielding and bowling, but I'll be OK.”
Kasprowicz also played down suggestions the Australians were rattled or that their complaints over England’s use of substitutes smacked of sour grapes.
“No one likes losing and we've gained a lot by the fact that we've taken games pretty close,” he said.
“We found ourselves fighting from behind, certainly in the last Test.
“There is a slight analogy of the situation in Zaire in 1974, the Rumble in the Jungle, when I suppose the considered ageing Ali found himself on the ropes and had copped all that Foreman had – but he knew that he had more in his tank and he just needed to deliver that final punch in the last round.
“Now is the time for us to come off the ropes.”