Like many English cricket fans we are still basking in the joy of Ashes triumph and fully intend to gloat and glorify about it for some time to come. We make no apologies for this as having been starved of success down under for 24 long years and having copped plenty of flak from our Antipodean cousins, the shoe is now most definitely on the other foot.
As such over the next few days, the Reverse Sweep will look at some of the reasons why we believe that England triumphed and Australia choked. Preparation seems a good place to start.
It was Thomas Edison who coined the phrase “genius is only 1% inspiration, but 99% perspiration” and in terms of having done all their homework prior to the big event, Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss would get a large tick in the box from Thomas.
In 2006 England arrived beset by injuries, had the untried axis of Fletcher and Flintoff at the helm and played a couple of jolly warm-up matches before taking the field for the 1st Test at Brisbane thoroughly under-prepared. Unsurprisingly, they were royally rogered by an Australian side intent on revenge from 2005. The whole thing stunk of complacency, hubris, ineptitude and eventually farce.
Messrs Flower and Strauss however left no stone unturned. Following a team-building boot-camp in Bavaria, England played three proper first-class matches upon arriving in Australia, which they played to win. They sent their first-choice bowling line-up to Brisbane early to acclimatise whilst the likes of Tremlett, Bresnan and Shahzad blasted England to a 10 wicket win over Australia A.
Australia on the other hand, played a one day series with Sri Lanka just prior to the first Test, named a 17 man squad and then jettisoned their first-choice spinner Nathan Hauritz for a punt on the untried Xavier Doherty. The whole thing smacked of uncertainty and a lack of planning.
Consequently, when England were blown off course first by Peter Siddle and then Mike Hussey and Brad Haddin in the 1st innings at Brisbane, they were able to come back in the second with the infamous 517/1. In part this was down to the ineptitude of the Australian bowling, but it was also because the England players had been well-prepared, well-drilled and knew exactly what they were doing.
The best-prepared side won at a canter in 2006, exaggerating the already large gap between the sides. But with the two sides supposedly so evenly matched before the series started, it was England’s preparation and their ability to hone and execute well-defined plans that was one of the keys to their triumph.
Flower and Strauss - Edison would be proud of you.
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