To my dearest English cricket fan friends, I know you have been feeling pretty good about yourselves lately, but I thought I might put pen to paper to remind you of a few home truths. First and foremost – we are still Australia.
The country you have hated throughout years because of our abundance of sporting talent and never say die attitude has not changed that much. Sure, after the Adelaide Test it seemed like we had undergone a collective lobotomy. We chopped and changed selections; we did not take our chances and worst of all we did not even put up a fight. In Perth we showed we are still Australia.
The uber talent (Warne, Gilchrist, Taylor and Hayden) may now be employed by Channel Nine rather than Cricket Australia, but the spirit will not change.
While you are no doubt feeling chipper about the last decade – the 2003 rugby World Cup, the 2005 and 2009 Ashes – you will notice a common theme. Before I point out the commonality, it would be ungracious of me not to congratulate you on these famous victories. Seriously, well played chaps.
The common theme is that despite your apparent dominance you had to fight until the very end of extra time and until the last ball of the last Test of the series to win these classic contests.
Even these weaker Australian sides do not and never will surrender without a fight. It’s not the Australian way. Even when Australia has not been winning the Ashes, we have still been rising from them.
Border, Taylor and Waugh did not build a culture that will simply vanish overnight, or ever. The reason being that they did not create this culture it was passed on them from Bradman, Benaud, Lawry and Chappell. The culture is as old as the baggy green itself.
A couple of other brief facts.
The core of this team that has formed in the post Warne/McGrath era has been written off a few times. However, their results would suggest that they are actually a pretty decent team. It was only a matter of weeks ago that they had all but won the first Test against India (the team many consider to be the best team in the world) on their home soil.
Only the tactical incompetence of Ponting kept India alive. Perhaps even more telling was Australia’s dominant win against the current number one Test side in the world, South Africa, again on enemy soil in 2009.
As Peter Roebuck identified within the first couple of days in Brisbane, these two teams are incredibly evenly matched. The fourth and fifth best teams in the world have played pretty much to form.
Both sides’ batting line ups have displayed a certain fragility and the bowlers have had good days and bad. Both teams in Perth rediscovered some defining traits from the past two decades. Australia found its mongrel and England produced two vintage batting collapses.
I guess what I am trying to say is that the great “G’s” of Australian cricket in Melbourne and Sydney will be theatres for epic and close matches – not stages for your encore performance as you may have hoped. While you may be basking in our warm sun, you will not be basking in victory just yet.
Boxing day, game on. We are Australia!