Not satisfied with having retained the Ashes, Australia's Test captain Tim Paine has declared that his team won't be in any mood to relent when they clash against England in the final Test at The Oval.
Australia kept the urn in their possession when they beat England at Old Trafford by 185 runs to take an unassailable 2-1 lead. Irrespective of what happens in the fifth Test, they will now return undefeated from an Ashes series in England for the first time since 2001.
"Last week's result was brilliant and we played very well, but all the guys are fully aware that this Test is bigger," Paine said on the eve of the match. "It's our grand final. We want this Test as much as any other in this series."
While Paine has earned accolades since his team's triumph in Manchester, his England counterpart Joe Root has come under scrutiny for his batting as well as his captaincy. The Australian sympathised with Root and said that he was in the same situation after the shocking defeat at Headingley.
"A week is a long time in cricket – it was the same for me last week," Paine said. "Root is a fantastic cricketer – he averages close to 50, so I don't get sometimes why he is under so much scrutiny.
"We know how competitive he is, how good he is. We know he'll come hard and look to bounce back. He's a huge wicket for us, like he always is."
We want this Test as much as any other in this series.
Root, who has not scored a hundred in this series, is averaging just above 30 and has three ducks in his last five innings. His Test average, which had stood at 52.80 before taking over the captaincy, has dropped by nearly five points. Since taking over from Alastair Cook in 2017, Root as captain has averaged just 40.87.
The skipper, though, denied that leadership was negatively impacting his run-scoring ways. "No. Of course, I've not performed as I would have liked, but that's part and parcel of Test cricket," he told Sky Sports.
"You've got to keep trying to find ways of counter-acting difficult passages of play and good bowling. I'll keep trying to work on that and try to improve my game."
The 28-year-old also said that the way forward for England now would be to look at the Ashes defeat as a stepping stone to better things in the future. England have already made two changes to their side, bringing in Sam Curran and Chris Woakes in place of Jason Roy and Craig Overton.
"In terms of my own captaincy, I know the direction I want to take this team forward in, and it's about starting that now and not after this series, trying to make sure that we use this as a stepping stone," Root said. "Win this game and then have a really strong winter and move forward as a group.
"We've not lost anything yet. Of course, we're disappointed not to win the Ashes back, but we're fully focused on making sure that we do everything we can to finish the series 2-2.
Personalise your homepage with an ICC account
News, fixtures and updates tailored to your favourite team. Never miss a moment!