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Last Updated: Monday, 25 July 2005, 11:33 GMT 12:33 UK
Justin Langer column (1st Test)
Justin Langer
By Justin Langer
Australian Test batsman at Lord's

Australia celebrate victory on the Lord's balcony
Australia celebrate victory on the Lord's balcony


It is a brilliant feeling when you get to the stage in a Test match when your team is right on top and you know you are on the verge of winning.

When the rain finally stopped falling, Ricky Ponting decided on Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath to see if they could complete the destruction they had caused during the first three days of this Test.

While the celebration has been memorable, England can be sure we will be back training as hard as ever tomorrow morning

His instincts were proved right as our two champion bowlers ran through the last five England wickets in a much shorter time than even we may have expected.

After a long wait throughout the day, everyone who had braved the elements would have been happy to see some action.

But I am sure the inevitability of what was about to transpire had certain people praying for more rain.

With Lord's as the backdrop the excitement in our camp was as high as ever and by the time Simon Jones had edged a catch to Warne at first slip, we were ready for a big celebration.

We celebrated well into the night and even though the Test match finished in the afternoon, we didn't leave the Lord's changing room until midnight.

Winning this first Test is as much a relief as anything else.

There is no denying how much this series means to people, so to have our noses in front from the start of the summer is a big bonus.

While the celebration has been memorable, England can be sure we will be back training as hard as ever in the morning.

We may be 1-0 up but we understand and respect that this is going to be a tough series and we won't be relaxing until the job is done.


Australian spinner Shane Warne gets down to business at Lord's
Warne single-handedly snuffed out England's fightback at Lord's

In a nutshell, today was about Australia flexing our muscles and taking a firm hold of this Test.

As has happened so many times before, we have been able to seize the initiative by simply matching our opponent in pure skill.

For months there has been so much hype and ego being bandied around that it has almost been a relief to get out onto the field and start playing the game of cricket, rather than the shallow and fickle game of words.

So much has been made of what and who may make the difference in this series.

But if today is anything to go by then the depth of our team, plus the Shane Warne factor, have been highlighted as massive bonuses for the visitors.

Warne's influence today could, quite simply, be the major catalyst for the remainder of the summer.

As a batsman there is no worse feeling than knowing you are finding it difficult to come up with answers for an opposition bowler.

After what we have seen today, the mind of a number of England's batsmen could be racing until the next time they encounter our leg-spinning wizard.

For years he has mesmerised batsmen, and today was no different. He was superb, as was the overall effort of every one of my team-mates.

Let's hope from our point of view that a few doubts start creeping into the psyche of a number of England's players.


Simon Katich sees a possible four stopped by Ian Bell
Simon Katich could be key to Australia's chances on Saturday
At lunch yesterday it would have seemed unrealistic, or at least very optimistic, to suggest Australia would be 315 runs ahead in the second innings.

We were in all sorts of strife, but thanks to some brilliant bowling and aggressive batting by our middle order, the advantage is arguably with the visitors tonight at stumps.

There is enough assistance for the bowlers to suggest England will have to be at their best to chase over 300 in their second innings.

They will also have the undeniable pressure of expectation to record an historic victory against one of the best bowling attacks of the modern game.

With Simon Katich still at the crease, we will be looking to add as many extra runs as possible in the morning.

Chasing runs is always a tough assignment in Test cricket but considering this Lord's wicket is only into its third day, England will back themselves to come out triumphant.

One thing that is certain is that, regardless of tomorrow's sequence of events, nothing will come as a surprise if the first two days are anything to judge by.


Justin Langer felt the force of Steve Harmison's pace with only the second delivery
Steve Harmison made his intentions clear with the second ball
Leading up to the first day of this eagerly awaited Lord's Test match I have been like a kid on Christmas Eve.

Tonight, after one of the most incredible days of Ashes contests, I feel like the same kid on Christmas night.

Physically, mentally and emotionally I feel exhausted and, considering this is only the first of 25 days of this Ashes campaign, we could be in for an arm wrestle that is likely to leave both teams shattered by the end of the summer.

From ball one of the game, Steve Harmison was right on the money. His first ball was almost the text-book delivery as it hit a good length and whizzed just over the top of my off stump.

His second ball set the scene for what was one of the most adrenaline induced sessions of cricket that we have experienced.

Shooting off a good length, I didn't have time to get out of the way of the new ball as it rocketed into my right elbow.

Poor judgement perhaps on my behalf, but more likely a sign of the intensity England brought with them out onto the field.

Our camp looked more like an emergency room than a cricket changing room
Within an hour Harmison had bruised my arm, thundered a bouncer into Matty Hayden's helmet and then split open the cheek of our captain Ricky Ponting.

For a few moments it felt like we were playing the first half of a rugby match rather than the first session at the home of cricket.

The action was exhilarating and by lunch our camp looked more like an emergency room than a cricket changing room.

With bodies and egos bruised and cut to shreds, we had to face more of the same fire after lunch.

Harmison was more like Jonah Lomu as he ran through our batting with the aggression and radar of a world-class bowler.

Fortunately, we had our own Lomu to even up the contest. Glenn McGrath is quite simply a superstar, as his 500th Test wicket testified today.

He was almost unplayable from the same pavilion end from which Harmison was so effective.

In a county game the pitch inspectors would be called out tomorrow because of today's 17 fallen wickets.

I don't think the wicket can be blamed but rather the pressure and adrenaline of a long meaty build up to this 2005 Ashes series.


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