01222018

England spirit is good despite defeat – Malan

Dawid Malan scored his maiden Test century in his eighth match

Malan and Jonny Bairstow compiled a partnership of 237 for the fifth wicket in Perth

Dawid Malan says the atmosphere in the England dressing room is “probably the best I’ve ever played in”, despite their Ashes defeat in Australia.

The 30-year-old Middlesex batsman struck his maiden Test century in Perth last week, but the tourists trail 3-0 with two matches remaining.

The fourth Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground begins on 26 December.

“We desperately want to get our pride back and win,” said Malan. “There’s no-one sitting in there blaming people.”

England’s Ashes defence was damaged before they even named their squad, when all-rounder Ben Stokes was arrested for his part in an altercation outside a Bristol nightclub in September and told he would not be considered for selection until further notice.

The tourists have also had to deal with Jonny Bairstow making the headlines after a reported headbutt on Australia’s Cameron Bancroft – which the England wicketkeeper insisted was playful – and batsman Ben Duckett being suspended from the Lions tour after pouring a drink over James Anderson in a bar.

Left-hander Malan is England’s leading runscorer in the series, and said of his first Ashes experience: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. I really like Australia, I really enjoy the country.

“There have obviously been a few silly things that have happened off the field which has put the tour into a bit of a bad place but – and this not a cliche – the team spirit is probably the best I have ever played in.

“We have lost 3-0 and the boys are extremely disappointed but Chris Woakes did 35 miles in the field in their second innings, so it’s not through lack of trying.

“As long as the guys are giving 100% and not shying away from the challenges, the team spirit will always be good.”

Four years ago – in a tour that became know as the ‘Pomnishambles’ – both Jonathan Trott and Graeme Swann flew home early, and Kevin Pietersen fell out of favour.

Malan said: “I wasn’t involved in that dressing room so I can’t really tell what it was like but the guys are already talking about Melbourne.

“We hold our hands up where we’ve been bad and where we need to improve and I’m sure the boys will be going back to the nets this week and working on those things.

“None of us are the finished article. Alastair Cook, who has played 150 Tests, is still working at his game – he has two or three extra hits a week.”

‘We need to be as aggressive as they are’

After the Boxing Day Test, the series concludes with the final Test in Sydney, which starts on 4 January.

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

Malan highlighted the second Test in Adelaide, when England bowled out the hosts for 138 but – after reaching 176-4 – slumped to 233 all out to lose by 120 runs.

“It showed when we were aggressive to them in the second innings, they fell away just as we did in certain times,” he said.

“I think batting, bowling or fielding we have to be aggressive. It doesn’t mean you have to chirp and get in people’s faces but look to score runs, take wickets, be positive in everything for five days and not just two and a half sessions.

“You can look back at all three Test matches and say we were in the driving seat for two or maybe three days, it’s just those crucial moments – one session a game we’ve lost and just fallen away.

“It is disappointing we’ve got nothing to play for in terms of the Ashes but the pride of our players will want to make this 3-2 and we want to show we can perform out here.”

England have lost eight successive Ashes Tests in Australia<!–

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