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Page last updated at 11:47 GMT, Thursday, 2 December 2010

Ashes: Justin Langer column

Justin Langer
By Justin Langer
Australia batting/leadership coach

Back-to-back Tests are always very hard work, especially when they are as tense as the first match of this Ashes series.

After the mental and physical struggle in Brisbane, both teams will be weary - of that there is no doubt.

The scoreline is still even and it is arguable as to which teams holds the advantage going into the game in Adelaide.

Australia's Mitchell Johnson
Mitchell Johnson can take encouragement from the fact that even the greatest have been left out on occasions

Both changing rooms will be hearing the same messages and trying to draw on the positives from the Gabba, but all the talk in the world will count for little as the players re-engage in their personal and collective struggles.

The Australian camp has been building up energy levels since the end of the first game and by the end of training this afternoon, the coaching team couldn't have asked for any more.

Every one of the players looked as though their preparation had been excellent.

Mitchell Johnson's response to his omission from the side has been inspiring and we are looking forward to seeing how he fights back from here.

It is never easy being left out of the Australian Test team, but at the end of the day no one has the God-given right to be selected and Mitchell understands that he needs to continue improving so that he can capitalise for many more years on his incredible natural talent and athleticism.

Even the likes of Ricky Ponting, Shane Warne, Matthew Hayden and Steve Waugh were all dropped at one point or another, and history shows they came back as even stronger players.

Sometimes what feels like a disaster at the time is actually the catalyst for better things to come, and that is what I would expect from Mitchell.

He can take encouragement from the fact that even the greatest have been left out on occasions, only to rise like phoenixes and retire as all-time greats.

In some ways the selectors were forced to make a change.

Ponting demands improvement

Losing three out of the last four Tests is almost unprecedented in Australian cricket history and with such an extreme second innings result last week, when England made 517-1, they obviously felt it was time to shuffle the pack.

From our point of view, it is heartening to know that Australia has depth of talent to choose from and regardless of what happened in the first Test, it was always an option to dip into that in this series, especially with back-to-back Test matches.

Before a ball was bowled, I maintained that this series would be all about the survival of the fittest, and if either team can keep their troops fresh by rotating them around then that will be an important strategy.

Although I am putting a positive spin on our preparation, we are not foolish enough to underestimate this England team.

Past England sides would have folded under the pressure of a sizable first innings deficit like they faced in Brisbane. This England team didn't.

Past England teams didn't have most of their players in century-making form at the start of a series. This England team does.

So far they have played well in all of their games in Australia and we are aware of that momentum.

Our job is to hang in there for longer than England and disrupt that rhythm and momentum.

It might take longer than in previous series, but we are clear that is what we have to do to win back the Ashes.

Such a challenge, while imposing, is why Test cricketers play the game. It is what makes them come back for more and why Test cricket will always be the barometer for the world's best players.

From Adelaide,
JL



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see also
Australians drop paceman Johnson
02 Dec 10 |  Australia
England focus on Adelaide - Trott
01 Dec 10 |  Cricket
England dominate in Adelaide Test
03 Dec 10 |  Cricket
Vaughan backs Swann to find form
30 Nov 10 |  Cricket
Strauss buoyant after Gabba draw
29 Nov 10 |  Cricket


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