Cricket

Australian cricket team lacking ruthless streak

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Broad snatched victory from Australia in Durham (©GettyImages)
Broad snatched victory from Australia in Durham (©GettyImages).

It's December 4, 2006 at the Adelaide Oval and, at the close of play on day four, England are 59 for one, leading Australia by 97 runs, having posted a superb 551 for six declared in the first innings.

Andrew Flintoff's men have withstood Australia's fightback, as the Aussies had battled their way to 513 having previously been 286 for five, and look set to snatch at least at draw in the South Australian capital.

The rest, as they say, it's history. A Shane Warne-inspired Australia bowled England out for 129, before going on to score the 168 runs needed to secure one the unlikeliest victories in Ashes history.

Fast forward six and half years and Australia, trailing 2-0 in the series, are seemingly on course to win the fourth Test, sitting comfortably at 168 for two, chasing a target of 299, before Stuart Broad's six for 20 off 45 balls swings the pendulum England's way, securing their third series win in a row.

Few things illustrates how far England have progressed since that fateful day in Adelaide like the fashion in which their success at Chester-le-Street was achieved, for securing seemingly impossible victories was a quintessential trait of Australian cricket for over two decades.

On the other hand, the blow Australia suffered when their golden generation almost simultaneously abandoned the Test arena has been enhanced by the lack of winning mentality that has crept into the Australian camp in recent times.

Replacing the likes of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting was always going to be a demanding task, as it always is in sport when a glorious cycle comes to an end, but their retirements seemed to have affected Australia mentally much more than on the pitch.

Had England conjured to throw way the fourth Test the way Australia did, they would have been described as "typical England", except for the fact that Alastair Cook's men have very little in common with their predecessors when it comes to mentality.

In fact, despite Cook's wayward captaincy in the fourth Test, England proved that their greatest asset at the moment is neither Jimmy Anderson nor Stuart Broad, or Kevin Pietersen for that matter, but a winning mindset born out of an impressive run of 12 Tests without defeat and three Ashes series wins in a row.

Had they been staring down the barrel of a gun like Cook's men were on day four at Durham, England teams of yesteryear wouldn't have been given a chance, regardless of the quality of their players, but this England team know how to win and backed themselves to do so even in the unlikeliest of circumstances.

By contrast, Australia seem to have developed a fear of winning. Crumbling under pressure even when losing a Test seems to be an altogether more difficult proposition than winning it and, as England can testify, losing is a hard habit to ditch.

 

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Topics:
James Anderson
Shane Watson
The Ashes
Australia cricket
Cricket
England cricket
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