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The Ashes: Malan urges England to match Australia’s toughness

Dawid Malan is calling on England to take the attack to Australia as they set out to prove they can be a match for their Ashes hosts in the final two Tests. Picture: Jason O'Brien/PA
Dawid Malan is calling on England to take the attack to Australia as they set out to prove they can be a match for their Ashes hosts in the final two Tests. Picture: Jason O'Brien/PA
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DAWID MALAN is calling on England to take the attack to Australia as they set out to prove they can be a match for their Ashes hosts in the final two Tests.

Malan is England’s top batsman in the series, scoring 302 runs at an average of 50.33.

But he believes he could and should have done more to stop England losing the Ashes before Christmas. They have arrived in Melbourne for the Boxing Day Test already 3-0 down, with the urn gone south again.

Malan believes England must meet Australia head on to see if they crack under the pressure – as Joe Root’s team have done so far.

“I personally believe we need to be as aggressive with these guys as they are with us,” he said. “If you ever take your foot off the gas with these blokes, they seem to really, really dominate.

“It showed at Adelaide when we were aggressive to them under lights in their second innings – we attacked them, and they fell away just as we did at certain times.”

It is a tough place, but it is as tough as you make it. If you put it in on a pedestal and you aren’t willing to take these guys on, they seem to jump on top of you.

England’s Dawid Malan

Malan is not advocating outrageous sledging, just a can-do attitude and cricket on the front foot – sustained for the rest of the series.

“It doesn’t mean you have to chirp,” he added. “It doesn’t mean you have to get in people’s faces, but ... be positive in everything and don’t take your foot off and let them get into the game.”

Malan discovered to his and England’s cost that it is also critical they do not give Australia even a half-chance to battle back mid-match - as Steve Smith’s men have done so effectively.

Most recently in Perth, the tourists were 368-4 as Malan and his fellow first-innings centurion Jonny Bairstow piled up a record fifth-wicket partnership.

But once the left-hander went, six wickets fell for 35 – and England were soon a spent force as Smith hit a double-century and Mitch Marsh 181.

“One little mistake out here, and these guys seem to pounce on it,” added Malan. “You have to be mentally strong.

“It is a tough place, but it is as tough as you make it. If you put it in on a pedestal and you aren’t willing to take these guys on, they seem to jump on top of you.”

He blames himself for contributing to England’s downfall, despite having made 140 before he skewed a catch to point off Nathan Lyon at the WACA.

“I was extremely disappointed that me getting out led to a collapse and me sitting in the changing room (watching it).

“I think I let myself down a lot in the fact that I didn’t commit to what I wanted to do ... (as I had) to every other shot I’d played in that innings.”

In the bigger picture, Malan insists Root’s squad has huge collective determination - despite a perception of lost focus fed by bar-room issues such as Lions opener Ben Duckett’s decision to pour a drink over James Anderson’s head in Perth.

“There have obviously been a few silly things that have happened off the field, which has sort of put the tour in a bit of a bad place,” he said.

“But the guys are already talking about the next game and how we desperately want to get our pride back.

“No one’s sitting in there feeling sorry for themselves and blaming people.

“We hold our hands up where we’ve been bad and where we’ve been poor, and where we need to improve.”