Leeds:Australia captain Ricky Ponting said his side were now looking forward with confidence to the finale of the Ashes after levelling the series in dominating style.
Victory by an innings and 80 runs in the fourth Test at Headingley on Sunday, a win achieved with more than two days to spare, saw Australia level the five-match series at 1-1 with one to play.
They now head to the Oval, where the fifth Test starts on August 20, needing just a draw to retain the Ashes, with several of their leading batsmen and bowlers in fine form.
"It will be difficult for England to bounce back now. Everything is heading in the right direction for us at exactly the right time of the tour," said Ponting.
Australia were on top throughout at Headingley, bowling England out for 102 with recalled seamer Stuart Clark taking three wickets for 18 runs and fast bowler Peter Siddle a Test-best five for 21.
In reply, Australia piled up 445, man-of-the-match Marcus North scoring 110, vice-captain Michael Clarke 93 and Ponting himself a stylish 78.
Ponting is desperate not to follow in the footsteps of Billy Murdoch and become the first Australia captain in over a century to lose two Ashes series in England.
But after this victory Ponting, captain when England won the Ashes 2-1 on home soil four years ago, was in bullish mood after seeing his team fall behind this series with a 115-run second Test loss at Lord's.
"It's a chance that I've been waiting for all tour, the chance the whole team has been waiting for," he said.
"After we lost at Lord's we've been wanting to play well and win again to get back to 1-1. I don't think we could have done anything better in this game."
In an England team missing injured stars Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff, Australia's attack honed in on the weakness in the hosts' middle-order pinpointed by Ponting.
Ravi Bopara, Ian Bell and Paul Collingwood managed just 16 runs between then for six times out in the match, the worst collective display by numbers three, four and five in all of England's 890 Tests.
"I've said right through the series if we could get some early wickets and get their middle order out there with a relatively new ball that was swinging a bit, then I thought we could do some damage and that's what we did in both innings," Ponting said.
Clark set the first innings tone while, in the second, previously struggling left-arm quick Mitchell Johnson took a series-best return of five for 69.
"I know the first couple of weeks didn't go to plan with him but the selectors decided to back him and keep pushing him knowing that if he did actually return to his best he could be a match-winner for us," Ponting said.
"I felt through the (drawn third) Edgbaston Test things started to come back for him.
"He swung a couple of balls back in to the right-handers and caused some problems and he did that particularly well in this game."
Whereas England have several selection dilemmas, now the only decision for Australia is whether to recall off-spinner Nathan Hauritz at the Oval, where the pitch usually takes turn, after he was dropped in favour of Clark at Headingley where Ponting's men went in with a four-man pace attack.
"We'll wait until we get to the Oval and have a look at the surface there," Ponting said.
"When a team performs as well as this one has you wouldn't think there'd be too many changes."
England must now decide whether talismanic all-rounder Flintoff, left out at Headingley because of a longstanding knee injury, is fit enough to play at the Oval.
"We prepared this week as if he was going to play and we'll prepare the next Test as if he'll play that one as well," Ponting said.
Such is England's plight Scyld Berry, the editor of cricket almanack Wisden, said on Sunday that prolific Surrey batsman Mark Ramprakash should be recalled at his Oval home ground despite being a month shy of his 40th birthday and not having played Test cricket for seven years.
Ramprakash's first-class average is over 54 but his 52 Tests yielded just two hundreds and an average of under 28.
Ponting, asked about calls for Ramprakash to play, said: "That's all started, which for us is terrific.
"I'll just focus on a fifth Test match which is going to be one of the best moments of my career."