When considering the week ahead at MCG, it’s hard to do so without reflecting on what happened to Tim Paine’s team on the same field against their same Indian adversaries two years ago. Their tough defeat then, after conceding a 242-run deficit earlier in the match, was the scoring point to end a brutal year: Australia Horrible doses.
The rise made by the home team to the top of the traditional way of the game since, at least as far as two sets of ICC rankings are concerned, it is clearly represented against the actions of the captain. Back then, I described the Tasmanian’s mission as quixotic: the honorable understudy doing his best as the side stumbled from one misadventure to the next. But now any such sentiment has long ago been shelved under the glare of the extraordinary triumph in Adelaide.
Not extraordinary for his perfection, but for his savagery in the exchanges that mattered most with the test to be won on the third afternoon. The rest was (and will be) history: India beat 36, its worst record in nearly nine decades as a test country. As for Paine, the man of the match in the starting rubber for the first time in his career by a 73 who saved the bacon, he did not leave for Australia as they sputtered to 191 the night before, he has been in charge of the Ashes retention. and six … Consecutive test wins since December 2018. According to the coach, it makes him the most important player in the line-up.
“He’s almost our most important player,” Justin Langer said. “He is an elite wicketkeeper, his leadership on and off the field is incredible and we saw how well he hit in the first test under pressure in Adelaide, he probably really changed the game with the departure of Virat Kohli. So he’s a great player, a great leader, and I literally love having him on our team. “Is that his best forward hitting?” Confidence is an amazing thing, isn’t it? “
As strong as the glow that follows Adelaide, it’s the way Australia handled the punches that impressed Langer the most. “We have come a long way in two years,” he said. “Before that overtime I told the guys, ‘Make no mistake, this is the right test cricket.’ India really beat us for the first two days of the game. A real arm fight awaited us. It was amazing how things changed. “
But this sense of faith is not the same as drinking your own bath water at the Christmas table. On the sides he played on, the game plan was simple: make 400 and then leave it to the bowlers. This is not that team, at least not yet. The other characteristic of the best Australian units was their ability to back you up week after week, something Langer is setting as the next benchmark. “If we are going to become a great team, we have to get better at winning after winning and people didn’t quite understand it, but really good teams keep winning and winning.”
Those in the know have stated that the pitch will be conducive to hitting big, usually in Melbourne. However, David Warner won’t be there to mess with his thigh injury by ruling it out, giving Joe Burns and Matthew Wade the spot at the top of the list once again. Langer insisted that the left-handed mainstay will return once he can sprint, which will likely be before Test 3, either in Sydney or Melbourne. That means one of the aforementioned starters, or Travis Head, will be in the line of fire. But there’s nothing wrong with that, according to Langer: “These things have a fun way of working and the guys who are doing careers, they will still get selected, that’s generally the way it works.”
The main difference on the eve of Boxing Day, as Melburgers are inclined to call it, is that the Australian team will be without their families, in the safe Covid bubble needed for a terrible year that extends well beyond the victories and defeats. But the very fact that the test is played out by comparing the situation in Victoria to other places around the world, even two months ago, is something Langer’s team is going to savor, even if only 30,000 fans will be allowed. famous walk to the village land. The message is clear: They will take care of each other the way strong teams do so well.
“It’s a real family feeling,” Langer said. “We know that this year is not perfect, but we will continue with the work, to have a broader vision of cricket. What I wish is that the lessons that we have taken from this year, and the positive lessons, continue, especially in the Australian cricket team, because it is a dream to be a part of this moment, it is a great group of people. . “
If they can turn this positive energy into a positive result, there will be little doubt that this is the best test team in the world. What a difference two years make.
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