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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 December 2004, 11:14 GMT
Keeping a close eye on England
Justin Langer
By Justin Langer
Australian Test batsman

Justin Langer and Andrew Strauss
While six months is a long time, it is sure to go quickly as the anticipation for another Ashes battle grows strong

What continues to astound me is even when this Australian team is in trouble, someone or some partnership seems to do something spectacular to give us the edge.

We showed our resilience yet again in the second Test against Pakistan, where we came from behind to win easily.

This ability gives us incredible confidence and allows us to believe that we will win whatever situation we find ourselves in.

England are starting to develop this belief within their Test team.

We are keeping a close eye on England's recent successes with a view to the eagerly awaited Ashes series next year.

After being 190 runs behind on the first innings - as they were against South Africa in Durban - England sides of the past may have succumbed to the pressure and capitulated.

In contrast, this team is showing a lot of steel and determination, and from the way they are playing they are learning how to win games from different positions.

It is evident, in the way they are approaching their game when the pressure is on, that this England team is a very good one.

Winning consecutive Test matches suggests they have found the winning formula, and any team who is able to achieve this confidence is a team who is formidable against any opponent.

With Australia playing so well and England doing the same, we are starting to feel the excitement building already for the upcoming Ashes series.

Justin Langer and Yousuf Youhana
Pakistan were in a great position but we fought back valiantly

While six months is a long time, it is sure to go quickly as the anticipation for another Ashes battle grows strong.

But, just as England have their own commitments right now, Australia have Pakistan to contend with.

There is no doubt Pakistan would have arrived at the magnificent MCG on day three nervously excited about the prospect of causing a huge upset and levelling the series.

They were in a very strong position after posting 341 in their first innings, and we were struggling at five wickets down and about 150 runs behind.

With the pitch deteriorating and likely to become harder and harder to score runs on, Pakistan would have been hoping for a substantial first-innings lead to set up a long, tense run chase for us on the last day.

Unfortunately for them, but fortunately for us, another great individual effort and a couple of productive partnerships allowed us to sneak ahead on the first innings.

Damien Martyn, who has been an outstanding contributor throughout the year, played a typically classy knock and teamed up with Jason Gillespie to frustrate the Pakistanis.

Their partnership was the catalyst behind the momentum shift which must have shocked our opponents into submission.

Although they were only 40 runs behind, they had no answer to the pressure applied by our bowlers on the afternoon of day three.

Wickets tumbled one after another and before we knew it, the game had been turned around from a potential defeat into a resounding nine-wicket win.

I count it as another highlight in my career as part of a team who never knows when they are beaten.

A few months ago, our tour to India seemed to be the pinnacle of my career, but as England continue to improve the 2005 Ashes could overtake that epic struggle.

Time will tell.

From Melbourne

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