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Last Updated: Monday, 18 July, 2005, 10:56 GMT 11:56 UK
Dean Jones column

By Dean Jones
Former Australia Test batsman

Confidence is everything in sport and the Aussie cricket team have found some when everyone in the camp was being questioned just 10 days ago.

England's tactics, through their efforts in the media and their wonderful performances on the field, have put the Aussies on alert that they have come to play.

Australian opener Jason Gillespie
Gillespie is one of the Australians to have struggled so far
There is nothing like the build-up to an Ashes series as both teams use their respective media to try and gain a psychological advantage.

England's scare tactics in the media have been rather amusing, to say the least.

Headlines such as "You Sheilas" through to "They Are Rattled" will just be used by the Australian cricket team to motivate them further.

What the world has learned recently is that England have arrived as the bona fide number two team in world cricket for both one-day internationals and Test cricket.

I personally thought England had not done enough to hold such a title and would not put up much of a fight against this tough Aussie unit. By gee I was wrong!

The England bowlers have form on their side.

Steve Harmison and Andy Flintoff are both confident and they are becoming a huge concern to this Australian camp.

Add a little spice from the gregarious Kevin Pietersen and England now have a formula that means they rightly believe they can knock over these Australians.

The tourists had to either put up or shut up in the last two one-day internationals, and they managed to regain a bit of pride and dignity with two big wins.

One-day cricket is not that different to Test cricket - it is just played at a different tempo.

During the one-dayers many problems surfaced, including the lack of form of the top four Australian batsmen and opening bowler Jason Gillespie.

The Aussies will win here but the first two days will say a lot to me about who will win this series

Typically, this Australian team answered its own critics when Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist stood up in a time of need.

Then Michael Kasprowicz started to hit his stride, Gillespie began to bowl cricket balls instead of shot putts and the rest is history.

The Aussie confidence is back and the familiar successful strut is now apparent in their body language. These are all good signs for the Green and Gold.

The English media, rightly or wrongly, have also been questioning whether Justin Langer would get into form before the Lord's Test.

It took one day to answer that question as Justin showed his class with a nicely-timed century against Leicestershire.

Now the English media can only focus on Gillespie and Michael Clarke, who has not scored more than 35 in his last eight innings.

The English media are going quietly with Clarke because his replacement would be Brad Hodge, who by the way CAN play.

I feel the Australian selectors are still very worried about Gillespie's form and I can see them choosing Michael Kasprowicz instead.

It will be a sickening blow for the popular "Dizzy" but he is a big boy and will work with the team to win this series and retain the Ashes.

Many people do not realise this Australian team prides itself not on personal performances but on what the team achieves - Gillespie is no different to others in this regard.

Shane Warne poses with his portrait, which will hang in the Long Room at Lord's
Shane Warne can check out his portrait in the Long Room at Lord's
So with Gillespie out, the Aussie bowling department will be a pumped up Glenn McGrath, who will hope to get his 500th wicket and more at Lord's, the in-form Brett Lee, the honest warhorse Michael Kasprowicz and spin legend Shane Warne.

Warney will be happy to be with his mates and he will be thinking 'if I get a five-wicket haul here' it will be the answer to all of his problems.

We know that will be not the case for Shane, who is having a difficult time off the pitch, but a few wickets will no doubt help his cause somewhat.

Everyone is talking about McGrath's 500 wickets. Let us not forget that Warney has 17 to go for the unthinkable record of having taken 600 Test wickets.

Lord's has always been a huge concern for England when they play Australia - England have only defeated the Australians there once in 100 years!

Every Australian player wants to do well at Lord's because if you are successful, then many people believe you have made it as a Test player.

The Aussies just love the place and all of its traditions.

With London being invaded by many Australians these days, the Australian cricket team will feel like they are playing at home, with the likelihood of 70% of the crowd being Australian.

The Aussies will win here but the first two days will say a lot to me about who will win this series and who has come to play.


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