It was less than a year ago we twatted England 6-1 in an ODI series (take our little urn, will ya?). Since then we have won the Champion's Trophy, beaten India against the odds, had an unbeaten home summer, success in New Zealand and were runners-up in the T20 trophy. What the hell has happened? Where has all our traditional Aussie
Yes, we have injuries. But we had injuries when we went to India and still took it to them in what was a triumph of leadership for Ponting, pulling his team together and winning a series in which we should, by rights, have been completely flattened. Looking at it this way, it seems easy to blame Ponting for the loss here, and in truth it has been the batting that has let us down even though the injuries are largely on the bowling side of things.
I think that would be unfair, though. It's true that Punter is more a captain of action than words; he expects to play well himself and the younger, inexperienced players draw inspiration from his success and confidence. This, however, is not really Ponting's fault. It's just the way he is and no one can say he has been unsuccessful with it in the past, can they?Also, the batsmen who have failed have not been young and inexperienced.
For some reason this series has seen a different Australia. They seem to have absolutely no confidence, Ponting included. Even T20 hero Mike Hussey has had limited success. Pup has had his moments and so has Cam White, but all of them have shown only flashes of their known skill. None of them has been consistently good. In the first three matches, only 4 Australian batsmen reached 50 and any batting partnerships of any note came in the lower orders (and even they weren't much chop). The third match saw a late resurgence in the bowling, which nearly saved us. Had there been a decent performance from the batsmen to begin with, we would have won that one.
The 4th match, brimming with confidence, has been the exception rather than the rule. And the fact that the old style, weary under Aussie domination, England reared its ugly head again in that match only underlines what I'm saying here - that Australia's only problem has been lack of self belief.
I am writing this as I watch the 5th match. It's moving so slowly, my plants are wilting. We are still batting and it looks like we will struggle to even reach 200 at this point. The higher order batsmen have all failed miserably again, with the exception of Tim Paine who could still do with moving a bit quicker. All the players have crumpled kit that looks like they just couldn't be bothered this morning. Cam White's kit looked like he had slept in it. And they're playing like they can't be bothered as well. It's going to take a bowling miracle to save us from losing this one.
My question is this: when exactly did we stop believing that England are an inferior side to us? KP and Morgan are world class. That's it. We have Watson, Ponting, Clarke, Tait and Hussey. At a push, White. Why are we intimidated by these fools all of a sudden? Is it possible that they are brimming with so much confidence that we just aren't used to it and don't know how to handle it? For years Australia were the masters of cricket mind games. Steve Waugh knew the value of unbridled self-belief and Border used mind games relentlessly. Have England just beaten us at our own game?