Ashes 2013: England must show no mercy - Alec Stewart
Last updated on .From the section Cricket
As someone who was on the wrong end of seven Ashes series defeats in my career, I am thoroughly enjoying seeing England dominate this Test series.
After a close finish at Trent Bridge, England's 347-run victory at Lord's exposed the huge gulf in class between the teams.
The challenge to Alastair Cook and his team now is to go for broke, because if they keep their foot firmly on the gas there is every chance they could pull off England's first 5-0 whitewash over the Aussies.
For several members of this team, a clean sweep would represent some sort of payback. Cook, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell and James Anderson all played in the humiliating 5-0 defeat down under in 2006-07 and will be determined not to let this opportunity slip through their fingers.
A sign of a great team, as opposed to just a good one, is that they recognise when they have their opponent on the ropes and really go for the jugular.
This is how the outstanding West Indies and Australia teams played when they were sweeping aside almost every opponent that was put in front of them.
In the past two Ashes series, England have taken a 1-0 lead, but then faltered badly at Headingley and Perth to allow Australia back into the series.
Although they went on to win the Ashes in both cases, this time they must make sure their level does not dip and try to build up a momentum and confidence that they can carry into the return series down under, which starts in November.
In fact, the encouraging thing from England's point of view is that they still haven't quite played to their full potential.
Cook, Pietersen, Jonathan Trott and Matt Prior are all averaging below 30 with the bat, while Stuart Broad has so far only taken four wickets at 43.50.
At Trent Bridge, they were bowled out for 215 and given an almighty scare by Australia's last-wicket pair on the final day. At Lord's, they had to recover from a poor start in both innings when losing three early wickets but then recovered very well.
Bell's first innings partnership with Jonny Bairstow got England back in the game but I still believe a total of 361 was just below par on an excellent batting wicket.
The game hinged on an Australian batting performance which I can only describe as shambolic. To be bowled out for 128 on a good surface is unacceptable.
From that point on, the match was only ever heading in one direction and it was over to Joe Root to make sure England capitalised on their advantage.
Australia's muddled display revealed both mental and technical failings that could take some time to heal.
They have now lost six Tests in a row for the first time since 1984 and it is 10 matches since a member of their top three made a century.
Two years ago, the Argus review overhauled the management, coaching and selection structures around the Australian national team.
A fortnight before the Ashes, they sacked Mickey Arthur and brought in Darren Lehmann as coach in an attempt to galvanise the team.
Now, quite simply, it is down to the players. Starting at Old Trafford on 1 August, they need to play in a far more responsible way, still looking to take the positive options, but not being reckless in their decision-making or stroke-play.
Only time will tell if Michael Clarke's men have it in them to put Australian cricket back on track.
But if England can show a ruthless streak it may not be until after the back-to-back Ashes series that we really start to see an upturn in their fortunes.
If Kevin Pietersen's calf strain is serious enough to rule him out of the third Test in Manchester, England have plenty of alternatives to choose from.
Nick Compton, James Taylor, Michael Carberry and Eoin Morgan will all be hoping for a chance to resurrect their Test careers, while Yorkshire pair Andrew Gale and Gary Ballance along with Warwickshire's Varun Chopra are among the top performers in the County Championship this season.
Alec Stewart was talking to BBC Sport's Sam Sheringham.
The last innings, Joe Root 180.
But apart from that and Root's 180 none at all.
It would be an insult on the grand history of the Ashes if England had any sympathy for Australia's current plight.
If a couple of fairly howling drops had gone to hand, and he'd have a fairly respectable 6 wickets at 29. He'll be fine.
What do you expect him to say? Nah mate, we've got no chance.
Sports captains' utterances - like politicians' - should always, and only, be considered in the context of what they can say, not what they do say. They should be responded to as such.
Why is Trott being thrown into the 'failing batsmen' club? He got a 48, he was triggered for a 0, he followed that with a 58, and then got a legit duck.
That's not a disaster is it - pretty much 2 fifties in 3 innings.
Totally agree, absolute madness!
Why on earth would you not take the opportunity to stamp all over them when you have a chance, we have to take it stop being soft grind them into dirt and send them home dreading the return in Aus.
Anything less is a waste.
.I still have a feeling Australia have a good test match in them and it could be OT and for 5-0 not so sure of that.
But I would love too see it. Never ever right Australia off though
This Pietersen thing really needs to be put to bed now. KP has been in the side marginally less than Alastair Cook, the two have almost identical records in terms of games played and runs scored (hence, their averages are virtually the same). Cook has three more hundreds and thick black flowing locks, apart from that they're identical.
I don't see anyone clamoring for Cook to step out.
Or bat one-handed instead?
Or how about just rejoicing that our cricketers are doing such a great job as we are quick to run them down when they are not.