Australia believe they have spotted some “cracks” in England’s batting line-up, which they hope will widen in the remainder of this summer’s Ashes.
The tourists can no longer regain the urn, after England kept an unassailable 2-0 lead via Monday’s draw in the rain-affected third Test at Emirates at Old Trafford.
But Australia coach Darren Lehmann saw plenty of encouraging signs in his team’s much-improved performance in Manchester and they feel they have started to find potential weaknesses in England’s line-up.
Lehmann’s own batsmen also stood up for the first time in the series, thanks largely to captain Michael Clarke’s first-innings 187.
But asked if he senses their troubles are therefore behind them, as they head to Durham for the start of the next match on Friday, the coach was taking nothing for granted. “We’ll have to wait and see in the next Test, but I’m happy with the way they played,” he said.
“Obviously making a big hundred helps.” England did just that in their second Test victory at Lord’s, where Joe Root made 180, while Ian Bell contributed back-to-back centuries in the first two matches.
But despite acknowledging that, Lehmann said: “The first two Tests, Root got a big hundred and Bell’s made a couple - but we’ve shown a couple of cracks in their batting, which is exciting for us as a bowling unit."
At the suggestion he must be talking specifically about England captain Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott and Jonny Bairstow - all of whom could do with a few more runs - he added: “It’s not just those three. We have some great ideas about the other eight batters - which is good.”
Australia must win in Chester-le-Street to have any chance of even sharing the series.
The number of runs England captain and opening batsman Alastair Cook has scored in the three Ashes Tests this summer