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Justin Langer column

Justin Langer
By Justin Langer
Former Australia batsman and Somerset captain

Surely this Ashes series cannot reach the same heights as the legendary 2005 summer?

Australia captain Ricky Ponting
Ponting, although frustrated and disappointed at the outcome, has reason to be brimming with confidence

But if Sunday is anything to go by, then everyone with a love for the game better hang on to their seats and prepare their hearts and fingernails, because round one of this series was a brilliant advertisement for the game of cricket and the incredible rivalry between these two great countries.

Stealing an English colloquialism, I, like all full-blooded Australians feel absolutely 'gutted' about the result in Wales.

I can only imagine the empty feeling in every Australian stomach is identical to that among English supporters when Brett Lee blocked out the last over to secure a draw at Old Trafford in 2005.

As Monty Panesar and James Anderson counted down the balls, it was impossible not to draw parallels between these two nail-biting finishes.

In both games, Ricky Ponting was at his breathtaking best with the bat but as the Australians sat in the changing room in Cardiff, the mood and atmosphere must have been very different to that of four years ago.

Then, Australia were relieved and grateful for another chance. This time, it will be England who will feel like they have been given another opportunity to put things right in the next contest at Lord's in three days time.

Ponting's Man of the Match award was deserved for his sublime batting but in his mind he will know that although his team produced many heroes during the game, the series is still nil-all with everything to play for.

Psychologically, it will take some inner strength for Australia to overcome the disappointment because they will feel they were ripped off after dominating most of the game.

But Ponting, although frustrated and disappointed at the outcome, has reason to be brimming with confidence, not only because of his own form, but because of the outstanding efforts of nearly every one of his team-mates.

In the home changing room, Andrew Strauss must have been relieved and proud of the heroics from Paul Collingwood and his numbers 10 and 11, but may have left Cardiff with more doubt than confidence.

606: DEBATE
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In his analysis of the match, he will not only have thoughts invading his mind about how to counteract Australia's attack as a batsman, but also about the balance of his team and whether he has the right men in his XI to win back the Ashes.

While he will put on a publicly brave face, he will know that Australia had many heroes in Cardiff, while England had far too many passengers.

Captaincy is a tough gig on the best of days and it only gets tougher if the leader is not making runs and if his team is underperforming. Obviously one Test match doesn't make the summer but I would rather be in Ponting's shoes over the next three days than Strauss's.

This battle between the leaders is pivotal to the result of this series and it will be fascinating to see how both bounce back from here.

Ponting will have to guide his relatively young team through the frustration of not having banked the points from game one, while Strauss will have to re-assess his own batting, while re-building the confidence of his men.

These are challenging tasks, and with only three days before the first ball is bowled at Lords, their efforts would have commenced from the moment the bails were flicked off at Cardiff.

The marathon has begun…

From Taunton,
JL



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see also
Defiant England cling on for draw
12 Jul 09 |  England
England tactics frustrate Ponting
12 Jul 09 |  England
Escape will spur us on - Strauss
12 Jul 09 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
12 Jul 09 |  Cricket
Justin Langer column
06 Jul 09 |  Cricket
Justin Langer column
21 May 09 |  Cricket
Justin Langer column
05 May 09 |  Cricket
Australia in England 2009
20 Sep 09 |  England


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