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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 October 2005, 07:55 GMT 08:55 UK
Justin Langer column
Justin Langer
By Justin Langer
Australia Test batsman

Standing in the middle of the beautiful Sydney Cricket Ground, it was fascinating watching the genius of Shane Warne locking horns against the genius of Brian Lara.

Shane Warne and Justin Langer
It was a good week for Australia and a welcome change from the frustrations of England

A couple of balls before the Trinidadian run machine left the crease, he played a shot through mid-wicket which suggested he was on the way to producing a miracle for the World XI in the Super Series Test.

It is difficult to imagine any other player in the world having the skill and courage to flick one of Warney's fizzing leg-spinners through the leg-side with such ease and power and it was my choice for shot of the match.

That four brought with it the unnerving memory of Lara stealing impossible victories from Australia in the West Indies six years ago.

Fortunately this time Shane was the victor, having him caught behind for 36, and so ultimately were we in this exhibition Test match.

For me, the match lacked the intensity of country-to-country rivalries but having said that the spectacle of the world's best players together on one park was something to remember and I am pleased to have been a part of the event.

Like Warne versus Lara, it was enthralling watching Brett Lee roar in at Virender Sehwag, Jacques Kallis and Inzamam. Equally as entertaining was seeing how Adam Gilchrist and Matty Hayden countered the brilliance of Murali.

Throughout the game these contests within the contest made for great viewing. Rarely do you get the opportunity to see the best of the best going at it in on one big stage.

For this reason alone the event was a success - especially for the cricket purists of which there are millions around the world.

On the scoreboard the result was emphatic and it was apparent the better team won on this occasion.

Matthew Hayden
Matty Hayden was back to his best with scores of 111 and 77

By that, I don't necessarily mean a better team of individuals but rather a better team of players with a common purpose, all going in the same direction.

After the disappointment of the Ashes we had a lot to prove to ourselves and our critics.

We knew we didn't play our best cricket in England and therefore we also knew we had to make a few changes to remedy the situation.

In order to do this we sat down and discussed where we went wrong and where we had to go to if we were to maintain our standing as the number one ranked team in the world.

From the moment I arrived in Sydney it was apparent my team-mates and our support staff were determined to get back to our best.

We trained harder, set higher goals and generally got more focused with our preparation.

This improved attitude paid dividends and while plenty of criticism has been directed at the World XI I think we played very good cricket for a lot of the Test.

Matty Hayden was phenomenal on a pitch favouring the bowlers, Gilly was fantastic with the bat and gloves and the leg-spin combination of Warne and Stuart MacGill was devastating.

Our fielding was crisper and more energetic and Shane Watson looked like a Test batsman coming in at number seven.

All in all it was a good week for Australia and a welcome change from the frustrations of England.

Winning definitely feels better than the alternative.

From Sydney,


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