England v Australia - 5th Specsavers Ashes Test: Day Four
England v Australia - 5th Specsavers Ashes Test: Day Four

‘Amazing’ Ashes can be foundation for greatness

I said to my wife last Thursday that I felt sad to be leaving England and leaving this group of players and staff. We've been through a lot and achieved a lot since first coming together back in May.

We're taking home the Ashes and that is something we should be immensely proud of.

Of course there is disappointment we didn't win the last Test, but I'm excited about the future of the Australian Test team. We've made so much progress in the past 18 months, we play good cricket and the foundation is there to take the next step and become a great team.

 

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We drank with the English boys after the match and there was a good feeling between the two teams. There was plenty of laughter and joking about things that had taken place on the field, we both go hard and are both desperately competitive and we respect that in each other.

 

 

Former England captain Michael Atherton wrote a column about how pleasing it is in sport when two teams trying to "knock the metaphorical daylights out of the opposition, then shake hands and share a beer".

It's uncanny how the person who is the hardest to like on the field ends up being the one you get along with the best in those situations.

The players we shared a drink with that night were the only people in the world we shared the experience of the 2019 Ashes with on the field and to debrief afterwards with them was something I'll never forget.

 

Tim Paine was the first Australian captain to bring the urn home in almost two decades.
Tim Paine was the first Australian captain to bring the urn home in almost two decades.

 

I caught up with Joe Root and we talked about our respective roles. He's been through this before, I'd never captained in an Ashes series and could not believe the constant pressure and scrutiny involved. It is an amazing, draining, challenging experience but one I am invigorated and excited by.

Joe is a fine man and a fine leader. I have a lot of respect for him.

They are back on the road with tours of New Zealand and South Africa, we've got Pakistan and New Zealand at home.

 

In Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins Australia have two of the world’s finest bowlers in its ranks.
In Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins Australia have two of the world’s finest bowlers in its ranks.

 

I'm really happy with the way we've been playing and the spirit we've played the game. Retaining the Ashes is a big step for us, but the next one is to win at home against two good sides.

We've got the best bowling attack in the world and the basis for a great batting line up.

There's a bit of recovery to be done. My thumb was broken toward the end of that Test but it is not displaced so I should be right to get back into training early.

Peter Siddle tore a hip flexor bowling on the first morning. He has copped a bit of criticism for not bowling as well as he we know he can, but the team knows just how heroic he was.

A lot of other people wouldn't have bowled again in the match, but he pushed on because he didn't want to leave Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins to do extra work. He's a warrior, Sidds, and we love him deeply for that.

I learnt a lot about being a captain in the cauldron of the Ashes. It's a tough environment and your mistakes are highlighted, but I'm convinced I'm better for making them and learning those lessons.

Being a leader is like being a player, if you are not trying to get better all the time you should not be doing the job. The Ashes were a lesson in leadership you couldn't get anywhere else.

I'm looking forward to Australia seeing how far we've come this summer.

Last year we were a bit lost and were finding our way. I know we have found it now and I am confident this group is the beginning of a very exciting era in Australian cricket.

Steve Smith is a freak and it's great to have him back. The Marnus Labuschagne who joined us in May was a significantly better one than the guy we saw last summer. He has a huge future.

 

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Matthew Wade signalled intent with that second century at The Oval. There's competition for places in the batting order and there's a line of quicks kicking the door down.

I'm keen to see just how far we can take this team and I've decided to give up the BBL so I can concentrate on red ball cricket and being in the best place to lead them. Being captain is draining and I think I should take every chance to recharge my batteries.

I'll go back to the BBL when I'm finished but for now my focus is on my main job.

Enjoy the football grand finals, catch your breath and stay tuned. It's going to be a great summer.

News Corp Australia


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