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Ashes Cricket: Australia crushes England to leave it on brink of glory

updated 7:44 AM EST, Mon December 9, 2013
Australia will head to Perth this week with the opportunity to win the Ashes for the first time since 2007.
Australia will head to Perth this week with the opportunity to win the Ashes for the first time since 2007.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Australia won second Ashes Test by 218 runs in Adelaide
  • Host leads five-match series 2-0 after first two games
  • Third Test starts in Perth on Friday
  • It's 77 years since a side won Ashes from 2-0 down

(CNN) -- Alastair Cook might just be the most optimistic man in Australia right now -- for there are few who would back his assertion that the England cricket team faces anything other than "Mission Impossible".

Thrashed by Australia for the second consecutive time in the five-match contest, England must now overcome 77 years of history to win the series.

Not since 1936-37 has a team come from 2-0 down to win the Ashes -- on that occasion it was Australia which triumphed.

What appears more likely is that England's horrific 5-0 whitewash defeat of 2006-7 will be replicated -- especially given Monday's 218-run defeat in Adelaide.

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"It's certainly not impossible," England captain Cook told a press conference following the day's play.

"A lot of people who will be sitting in this room, and outside, will probably give us no chance.

"But if we don't believe that in our dressing room, if we believe the urn has gone, then it might as well have gone.

"Obviously 2-0 is not a great situation to be in. But if you look at a football game, the next goal can change it very quickly."

England, which has won the past three Ashes series, has struggled from the outset against an Australia side which it defeated 3-0 only a few months ago.

Only once before have England lost successive Tests by a margin of more than 200 runs, but following the 381-run loss in Brisbane, it now faces an almighty challenge to avoid humiliation.

Many of England's problems have come in their batting line up which has failed to pass 400 in its past 20 Test matches.

It now heads to Perth where it has only managed one win in 12 attempts and the scene of a 267-run defeat three years ago.

One of the most frightening prospects for England is facing Australia's fast-bowler Mitchell Johnson, who has already taken 17 wickets in the first two matches.

The extra pace and bounce in Perth will make Johnson even more dangerous -- an intimidating proposition considering the paceman took nine wickets at the WACA the last time these two met.

Captain Cook has struggled for runs at the top of the order while the likes of Kevin Pietersen and Matt Prior have also failed to live up to their billing.

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Needing 284 more runs for a final day triumph, England never looked like pulling off a miraculous victory. Instead, it lost its final four wickets for just 65 runs.

A win for Australia at Perth will seal its first Ashes triumph since 2007 -- not bad for a team which has only won two if its past 12 Test matches.

"It's going to take a monumental effort from us to do it," added Cook. "But we're the only guys who can turn it round.

"It was a better display in this second innings. (It was) by no means perfect, at all, but it was better than it had been.

"That's a small step, only a small step, but it's heading in the right direction."

Australia captain Michael Clarke, who is expected to make his 100th Test appearance at Perth on Friday, is in confident mood following his side's strong start to the series.

Clarke, who made 148 in the first innings at Adelaide, says the hard work his players put in during the English summer has finally come to fruition.

"It's not a fluke we have won the first two Test matches ... we believe, after the work we have been putting in for a long period of time, we're seeing some results.

Sachin Tendulkar will end his record-breaking cricket career following his 200th Test match, against the West Indies in his home city of Mumbai. Sachin Tendulkar will end his record-breaking cricket career following his 200th Test match, against the West Indies in his home city of Mumbai.
The end of an era
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From refugee to Afghan cricket captain

"The other side to that is, the reality is we have won two Test matches now in the past 12 months - and that is not acceptable as an Australian test team.

"We have started this series very well, but there is a lot of work still to do."

One man who is entitled to enjoy Australia's current success more than any other is Johnson -- the man who was subjected to constant taunting from the England supporters during the 2010-11 series.

Johnson did not feature in the last Ashes contest and England's batsmen must be wishing he was overlooked for this current series with the Australian striking fear into his opponents at every opportunity.

"I guess having that intimidation factor is definitely a bonus," Johnson told reporters.

"It wasn't probably quite there in the last couple of Ashes series for me - so to be able to come out, just back my ability, and know what I wanted to bowl, I will continue to do that throughout the series.

"I won't let myself get too excited ... it's all about not getting too far ahead of yourself."

Read: Trott pulls out of Ashes tour

Read: Match-fixing allegations rock New Zealand cricket

Read: Tearful farewell for India's "Little Master"

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