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Ashes 2013-14: Allan Border praises Australia’ self belief

 

Australia won the Ashes series by defeating England in the third Test at WACA © Getty Images
Australia won the Ashes series by defeating England in the third Test at WACA © Getty Images

 

Dec 18, 2013

 

Former Australian great Allan Border praised the self-belief and consistency shown by the Australian setup to thump England in the Ashes series of 2013-14.

 

Border wrote in his column for Australian Cricket Family, “Perth has been another impressive all-round performance that has continued the great work done throughout this series. The momentum that was created in the first match permeates through to the second and third match and you can see there’s a belief and a confidence and a camaraderie in the group.

 

They’re enjoying and celebrating each other’s moments of success and they’ve become a really serious cricket team. That’s what happens when your planning and execution all comes off. You become a serious cricket team rather than a bunch of individuals just playing. There’s a bond that gets created; it’s one of those things that you can’t manufacture, it just happens. They’re really enjoying their cricket and it’s coming through loud and clear with their performance”, he stated.

 

Border though, was concerned about the way Australian top-order yet again failed to capitalise on batting first on a good batting track in the third Test at Perth. He said, “However, once again we had a little wobble on the first day. It’s happened in all three Tests where we put ourselves in a little bit of a jam. Having batted first, losing early wickets and then basically getting out of jail through runs from batters like Brad Haddin and Mitch Johnson and the tail and then building up a really good first innings performance. At tea time on day one in each of the Tests it has been heart-in-the-mouth stuff.

 

When I looked at the scenario at tea on day one, I was worried we were losing all the advantage of batting first on a good track. That was where I was most worried, and then things have developed, in all the games, from there: good partnerships lower down the order and all of a sudden we get ourselves into a good position. To score 385 batting first was always a good spot to be in at the WACA.”

 

Border gave his views about the final day’s play when England’ batsmen led by Ben Stokes gave Australia a few jitters, “I can really empathise with how Michael Clarke would have been feeling on day five as the five wickets Australia needed to win seemed hard to come by. The reality of being a couple of hundred runs to get with four wickets in hand, the history of the game suggests that’s very hard to do. But as a captain, you always have a little worry.

 

I don’t know if it’s unique to captains or just to me, but I imagine he would have been thinking about all the things that can possibly go wrong from that point. I don’t know why you think like that, because the history of the game says it can’t be done.”

 

But the way they were batting, it suggested the pitch was still playing pretty well, anything that hit a crack did something ridiculous that nobody is getting bat on.”

 

He continued, “Then the game is drifting along and we don’t look like getting a wicket and nothing is happening. And then something did. And bang, bang, bang it’s all over in the blink of an eye.

 

When you’re watching on you’re not as paranoid as when you’re out there. You always think it just takes one. Ben Stokes was playing so well, he’s 22 and you had to think is he really going to make a double-hundred for England to win? Fairy tales do happen, but not that often.”

 

Border also had a few good words to say about England’s lone centurion in the Test match Stokes.

 

“Stokes would have had to make 200 or more for England to have any hope of winning. Good on him for his effort, I think he’s a really good quality cricketer, but to turn up and make a double-hundred in your second Test match …. Well, I suppose records are meant to be broken but I was always fairly confident Australia would get the breakthrough.”

 

Border on the euphoria of winning the Ashes series, “The feeling in the dressing room after a win like that is really hard to describe. It’s euphoria. A lot of those guys have been in past Ashes campaigns and felt the pain of what it’s like to be on the receiving end. They know how it hurts. And all of a sudden you’ve turned things around. The reward and the realisation that hard work does pay off.

 

“The game finished not long after lunch so that would have curtailed too many late nights. But you’ve got to enjoy the fruits of your labour. These moments come along so rarely that you’ve got to enjoy it. They’re grown men, they deserve to enjoy a night out. I’ve been there and it’s one of the great nights of your life. You want to savour it because it doesn’t happen very often.

 

Border wanted the Australian setup to keep the pressure right on England. He wrote, “Looking ahead, I don’t think they’ll have any problems getting up for the Boxing Day Test. They’ve got quality people around the team that will give them their head for a day or two but I’m sure they will be reminded they’re on the threshold of some great stuff here.”

 

Just remember what it felt like in England just a few short months ago. How did that feel? Yeah, it felt pretty bad. Ok, we’ve got to keep this juggernaut going for as long as we can.”

 

“That’s the message Darren Lehmann and the other senior guys around that group that have been through the good and bad times will be saying. While you’ve got an opposition down, do not let them get off the canvas, because if you do they might swing a lucky punch.”

 

Border who won many battles against England during his time wrote that they had a good team, but weren’t allowed to play at their best in the series, “I respect England, they’re a good cricket team that haven’t been allowed to play anywhere near their best. They’re off the boil a little bit and there’s reasons for that. It’s because we haven’t let them.”

 

Mitch Johnson has been a real thorn in their side. The quality bowling of Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon is growing in confidence all the time. So the bowlers have really lead the way.”

 

“Dave Warner has also grown in confidence and starting to work out what Test cricket is all about. If you go through each individual you can give them real credit points for what they’ve done as a group. I don’t think they will want to gift a victory to England, I reckon they’ve learnt a lot.”

 

He praised coach, Lehmann’s attitude of picking their best side every time.

 

“I think Harris will probably get himself right for Melbourne, but might struggle to back up for Sydney on top of that. I’m not sure he’ll play both remaining Tests. I’m not sure who they will bring in, I haven’t seen either Nathan Coulter-Nile or Doug Bollinger bowl this year so it’s a tough call for me to make. But I’d be very relaxed with either of those two.”

 

I think Lehmann has made it pretty clear that we are going to pick our best cricket team for that particular match, and then worry about what happens down the line separately. They will do their planning, no doubt. But I like that attitude, don’t plan too far ahead, just have things in place.”

 

But if Ryan is right for Melbourne, he’ll play in Melbourne. They won’t say because we’re playing South Africa next they will rest him. If he happens to get through Melbourne, they’ll play him in Sydney as well.”

 

He also said, “I prefer that attitude. That’s me and I’m a bit old school but I think that’s the best way to do it. You play your best team, and if there’s an issue, then you get someone in, see how they go. The best thing in the world is to name an unchanged team. That means you’re going pretty good. This team can definitely whitewash England now. They’re on a roll. If they do things smart with their preparation and the mental side of it they can really grind them down.”

 

Border concluded by writing about the few question marks that have cropped up on England’ key players.

 

“England won’t just lie down, as we saw on day five. That was a tough nut to crack for Australia. But there’s a lot of questions around England now. Will Broad play? He’s been their best bowler. How’s Swann going? How’s Anderson going? They’ve been their go-to men for a while and all of a sudden there is some huge questions marks over them. Where’s KP [Kevin Pietersen]? He’s gone AWOL.

 

“They’ve got a couple of good young blokes and they might just throw caution to the wind and throw a few young guys in. They look as though they’re ripe for a potential five-nil whitewash.”

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