Michael Atherton admits the form of England captain Joe Root and opener Alastair Cook is a cause of concern.
Root was dismissed for 20 in the first innings of the third Ashes Test in Perth, taking his overall tally for the series to 167 runs from five innings.
Cook, meanwhile, is yet to pass 40 and was trapped lbw for just seven on day one at the WACA on his 150th Test match for England.
Asked about Root and Cook’s performances in Australia, former captain Atherton told Sky Sports: ‘I think Joe’s game is a little bit off, his balance isn’t quiet there.
‘He’s not playing at his absolutely best, he’s grafting and trying to find his rhythm.
‘Cook is having a bit of a struggle, it’s a top-class Australian attack. They’re fierce bowlers so it’s not easy against the new ball on a pitch like this.
‘He’s obviously not in his best form, he’s been struggling throughout the tour so far.’
Despite Root and Cook falling cheaply, England reached close in a dominant position on 305-4 as Dawid Malan scored his maiden international century and Jonny Bairstow made 75.
‘The way Malan got through that initial barrage was impressive,’ Atherton added. ‘Australia came really hard, they went short and aggressive. England had to weather the storm.
‘Malan played his shots with conviction, he skipped into the 30s and then settled and played beautifully with Bairstow.’
Controversy surrounded Mark Stoneman’s dismissal during the afternoon session but Atherton believes the right decision was made in the end.
‘It was an interesting one, I’m not sure what the umpire saw that was conclusive enough to overturn the decision,’ he said. ‘It was probably the right decision made on the wrong terms.’
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