Talk of Aussie whitewash holds water

Michael Clarke may not be publicly entertaining the thought of a 5-0 defeat but Glenn McGrath's perennial prediction of an Ashes whitewash is all of a sudden holding water.

The fast bowling great was quick to react to Australia's 218-run win in Adelaide on Monday, tweeting afterwards: ''Another great win by the Aussies … here comes 5-0!!!!''

It's not the first time McGrath made the forecast about a showdown with England and if it had been said in the lead-up to the series it would have defied credibility. Yet after two enormous wins in the first two Tests, and a steamy Perth on the horizon, a repeat of the 2006-07 thrashing is beginning to appear a serious possibility.

Bookmakers certainly think so, with the TAB slashing the odds of a 5-0 Australian win from $21 to $5.50 after being as long as $81 before the Ashes.

In an extra kick in the guts for England, a 4-0 or 5-0 series win would propel Australia from fifth to third in the ICC Test rankings - leap-frogging Alastair Cook's team along the way.

Clarke, who along with Cook will play his 100th Test at the WACA Ground, did not want to discuss the subject of a possible whitewash on Monday.

''The reality is we've won two Test matches in the past 12 months and that's not acceptable as an Australian Test team,'' he said. ''So our feet are well and truly cemented on the ground.''

Australia's lousy record this year and the turmoil they have endured, however, only make the turning of the tables on England more remarkable. ''In our opinion, it's not a fluke that we've won the first two Test matches,'' Clarke said. ''This just hasn't been a five-second turnaround. It's the hard work that we've put in. I think we've prioritised and been very realistic with where we sit as a team and don't accept being ranked fifth in Test cricket.''

Infused by a surge of self-belief, coach Darren Lehmann pinpointed their defeat in the second Test against England in July, when they were smashed by 347 runs, as the turning point. ''I think we started to turn around after Lord's after the way we played, the brand of cricket we're trying to play. We changed a few things in England,'' said Lehmann, who is collecting plenty of deserved credit for his role in Australia's rise from mediocrity.

''It helps when you win. We probably should have won one or two Test matches [in England]. Once you start to win, it makes it easier for guys to understand where they're going.''

Mitchell Johnson was not even in the touring party to England in the winter but, with 17 wickets in two matches, he has left the visitors with few answers to his pace. Lehmann has sympathy for England's batsmen.

''When a bowler is bowling at 150km/h it's not easy,'' he said. ''When I was playing, 150km/h would get me out every time. I wasn't a very courageous player. It's a simple fact of life, it's tough work. We've just got to keep doing what we're doing now, don't change too much. We adapted really well from Brisbane to here, now we go back the other way. [Johnson] has been impressive, he's confident.''

Former England opener Geoffrey Boycott slammed the performance of the tourists' batsmen, who self-destructed with a flurry of poorly executed hook and pull shots in Adelaide that lifted to 21 their number of leg-side dismissals in the series.

''This Australian side aren't that good but they are playing to their best, and we, at times, are playing awful,'' Boycott said on the BBC. ''Just cut out the hook shot and pull shot … Bat with a bit of care and attention.''

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