England will go into the Boxing Day Test with a rousing motivational pep-talk ringing in their ears from coach Trevor Bayliss.
Dawid Malan, the leading runscorer in the Ashes tourists’ failed campaign to date, is already visualising how England can prove to a packed house in Melbourne that they are better than they have so far shown.
The Ashes are already lost after the innings defeat in Perth which made it 3-0 to Australia with two matches left, but Bayliss wasted no time reminding England there is much still to play for.
Malan is 10 runs an innings clear at the top of England’s averages, with 302 at 50.33, but he believes he and the rest of Joe Root’s team can all do better.
“I am so excited,” he said, looking forward the Boxing Day showpiece. “Trevor said ‘Look, we’ve got 90,000 people to play in front of – we need to stand up and show what good cricketers we are’.
“That hit home … that we’re going to have to perform.”
Malan’s first-innings century in Perth hinted at much better than England were ultimately able to produce, and he blames himself for getting out when set – even though he made 140 in a record stand alongside fellow centurion Jonny Bairstow.
“Especially at this level, you make one mistake and it has a rollercoaster effect,” said Malan, reflecting on a subsequent collapse of six wickets for 35 runs. “If I’m in that similar position (at the MCG), I’ll try to be more ruthless.”
He is determined to make the most of the remaining chances on his maiden tour.
“It’s extremely disappointing to come on your first Ashes and be 3-0 down with two to go. But I still have a hell of a lot to play for.
“There are four more opportunities for us to put our hand up, show we are good cricketers, can compete out here and can win games.”