x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Australia's bowlers find strength in numbers

A four-pronged attack has relieved the pressure on the bowlers, feels the Australian pacer Peter Siddle.

PERTH // Peter Siddle believes Australia's return to the four-pronged pace attack which has overwhelmed England in the third Ashes Test has set the hosts up for a strong finale to the series.

England slumped to 81 for five at the end of day three in Perth on Saturday, chasing 391 runs for what would be an Ashes-sealing victory.

It is a turnaround from the first half of the series when the tourists were on top with the bat and secured victory at Adelaide to take a 1-0 lead.

"I don't think there's more pressure on us (with four fast bowlers) — I think it probably eases a bit of the pressure," Siddle told reporters.

"You don't have to bowl those big long spells. We can have short sharp cracks at it, and that gives us more chance to stay at top pace.

"It's been good fun bowling with all the boys, and it's working at this stage."

Australia's three-strong fast-bowling line-up — plus spinner Xavier Doherty — conceded 1,137 runs in successive innings in Brisbane and Adelaide for a total of six wickets.

But the quartet of Siddle, Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris and Ben Hilfenhaus have 15 wickets already at the WACA. Johnson led the way with 6-38 in the first innings, while Johnson and Harris claimed two more apiece on Saturday.

Five more wickets with two days still to play would level the series at 1-1 ahead of the fourth and fifth Tests in Melbourne and Sydney respectively.

The bowlers have also stepped up their verbal barrage, landing a few choice words among the many short-pitched deliveries.

"The last couple of matches, we probably hadn't been at our best, we hadn't been getting wickets, we'd been a little bit quiet," said Siddle, a fiery redhead from country Victoria who went wicketless in the second Test.

"That's where me and Mitch talked about going in firing and having a good crack, trying to get a little bit more aggressive. It's paid off at the moment and hopefully we can continue that."

England's attack, by comparison, has been relatively listless, save for Chris Tremlett, who took 5-87 in the hosts' second innings.

Siddle suggested the series might come down to a battle of fitness, which the Australian bowlers appear to be winning.

"Hopefully we've put a little bit of damage into them at the moment after this match, and (we'll) see how they back it up for the next two Tests," he said.

"It's a matter of keeping them out in the field and batting for long periods of time and really tiring them out."