x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

England are on the ropes, says confident North

The batsman firmly believes Australia are ready to retain the Ashes following their crushing victory over England at Headingley.

LEEDS // Marcus North firmly believes Australia are ready to retain the Ashes following their crushing victory over England at Headingley. The talented batsman, whose effort of 110 fired the tourists to an innings and 80-run win in the fourth Test, is already focusing on ending the summer on a high by lifting the precious old urn at The Oval. North, 30, has excelled since arriving in England, scoring two centuries and a wonderful 96 to cement his place in Ricky Ponting's side.

While England's middle order has looked woefully short of both runs and quality, North's ability to create long-lasting partnerships with Michael Clarke has been crucial to Australia's success. His innings of 96 at Edgbaston, which helped Australia to hold on for a draw, proved the turning point for the tourists - a fact which is not lost on North. "The England team went out there on the final day at Edgbaston and firmly believed that they were going to win.

"But we took a lot out of that and a lot of fight and we started very strongly at Headingley. "We need to take the momentum from the last two Tests over the next 10 days to recover and prepare well for The Oval. "There's not a member of our squad that isn't looking forward to that Test." sports@thenational.ae