Aussies out to channel 1997 Ashes spirit

Australia will draw on the spirit of 1997 as they fight to level the Ashes series at Lord’s.

The tourists are in a state of upheaval that would have been unthinkable just two weeks ago.

“There’s cracks in any team when you lose and pressure on certain individuals,” former England captain Michael Vaughan said.

Selectors have run out of patience with under-performing allrounder Shane Watson for the match starting Thursday, while Brad Haddin will also miss the game due to family reasons.

Throw in Ryan Harris’ retirement and Australia will be without three of the veterans expected to play crucial roles in the series.

Mitch Marsh will return to the XI in place of Watson, sky high on confidence after starting his tour with tons against Kent and Essex.

Peter Nevill will debut at age 29, taking the gloves from NSW teammate and good friend Haddin.

Mitchell Starc, the bowler who most troubled England in Cardiff, needed pain-killing injections in his ankle to get through that clash.

Starc is expected to be passed fit for Lord’s but concerns about the paceman are likely to linger throughout the five-Test series.

Australia will need an immense form reversal to win the upcoming clash in London, but there is precedent.

Mark Taylor’s men were skittled for 118 at Edgbaston on day one of their Ashes campaign some 18 years ago.

They suffered a nine-wicket loss, but bounced back with a rain-affected draw at Lord’s and won the six-Test series 3-2.

“Coming to Lord’s helped. It’s a pretty special place,” Glenn McGrath recalled.

“Steve Waugh says it’s like playing a home game at Lord’s.

“We felt it within the team. It was my first time at Lord’s and that atmosphere and environment lifts the touring team.”

Clarke noted the 1997 series would be touched on in team meetings and remained confident of a strong fightback.

“I’m disappointed with the result but I’m not too concerned, because I know how good these players are,” Clarke said.

“We just got outplayed by England … we know we’re a better team than that.”

England are the last team to win an Ashes series from behind, Vaughan having achieved the feat in the spectacular 2005 series.

Vaughan nominated batting first as one of the keys to turning things around – for both him in 2005 and Clarke at Lord’s.

“It’s going to be a big advantage,” he said.

“Especially given the manner of both teams being ultra aggressive and attacking.

“It’s about getting runs on the board.

“The bowling units that bowl second also get to look at what tactics went alright for that wicket and they can deliver them.”

Vaughan believed Australia should not be judged on one poor Test.

“I don’t think the Australians can play any worse. They were probably surprised by England,” he said.

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