England captain Joe Root has been described as "soft" and "almost like a little boy" by former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting.
Root's side have been convincingly beaten in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth to relinquish the Ashes with two matches of the series still to come.
The tourists will hope for a change in fortunes in the fourth Test starting on Boxing Day at the MCG, while Root will be desperate to improve on his record of 176 runs at less than 30 in the series so far.
And Ponting, who captained Australia between 2003 and 2011, has called on Root to stand up and be counted for his team.
"The way he answered a lot of the questions after the game last week seemed almost like a little boy," Ponting said.
"You need to be more than that as a leader, especially when things aren't going well.
"Even if it's not natural to you, sometimes you have to put on a different face and stand up for what you believe in.
"Not only inside the dressing room, but outside it as well. For me, it just looks like it has been a little bit soft, if anything."
Ponting conceded Root's position has not been helped by England's well-documented off-field misdemeanours in recent weeks.
"I think he has been under pressure right from the start because of things that have been happening off the field," he added.
"To me, what those things show is a complete lack of respect for him as a captain."