ADELAIDE, Australia (AP): Alastair Cook is deep in hostile territory, history is against his England team and he knows the Australians are going to come even harder at them in Perth.
He hasn't given up all hope of retaining the Ashes, though, even at 2-0 down in the five-Test series.
England hadn't lost a Test in 12 months until their 381-run defeat in the series-opener at Brisbane. Now they've lost back-to-back matches. The 218-run defeat in Adelaide was on a flat wicket and the Australians are heavily favoured when they return to a fast, bouncy surface in the third Test at the WACA.
No team has come back from 2-0 down to win an Ashes series since Australia in 1936-37, but Cook said "it's certainly not impossible".
"A lot of people will probably give us no chance," he said. "It's going to take a monumental effort from us to do it, but we're the only guys who can turn it around."
first Ashes experience
Cook's first Ashes experience was on the 2006-07 series, when England were crushed in a 5-0 sweep by a ruthless Australian team stinging from a defeat in England in 2005. England have won all three Ashes series since then, but some critics, including former England captain, Michael Vaughan, are now predicting another sweep for Australia only three months after they lost 3-0 in England.
The difference between the last series and now is a more stable Australian team and the impact of sheer pace from Mitchell Johnson, who wasn't selected for Australia in the last series, but who has terrified the Englishmen with his express, short-pitch bowling and taken 17 wickets already. He returned career-best Ashes figures of 7-40 to skittle England for 172 in the first innings on a docile Adelaide pitch, which had yielded 570 runs for Australia.
He bowled Cook (three) in the first innings with an almost unplayable, late-swinging ball and then returned to tear through the middle order in s spell that netted 5-12 in 18 balls. The Australian paceman only took one wicket in the second innings, but it was key. Cook attempted to hook a short ball and was well caught in the deep, and suddenly England were 1-1 after being set 531 to win.
England eventually reached 312 yesterday, raising their first total above 180 in the series. The other positive signs for England were the 87 by Joe Root batting at No. 3; a responsible 53 from Kevin Pietersen; and 69 from vice-captain Matt Prior, who had only tallied four runs in three previous innings.
Cook said it would be too "simple" to attribute England's problems to one Australian bowler and doesn't think the three-day turnaround between the second and third Tests is too short for his batsmen to work out techniques to defuse Johnson's pace.
"The guys selected to score the runs are not getting them, and that's starting with me," Cook said. "I need to score more runs. Simple deal."