Monday, August 08, 2005

Game On!

It was quite bizzarre, really, to see Aussies almost rooting for England - well, not quite, but almost. Everyone seemed to agree that England winning was a good thing, but it was surprising to see Australia take the defeat so easily in their stride. There was no tough talk at the end of the game, just the usual stuff about areas needing improvement and similar inanities. There was also not much of a shock, at least on the surface, here in Australia. It's as if, the real thing is finally here. Such is the yearning for a competitive Ashes series, which hasn't had the edge to keep audiences interested since England shocked Australia in the first test in the summer of 1997. Australia face their sternest test since then, and they will need all the Aussie spirit on display on Sunday morning, especially if McGrath's ankle needs more time to heal than they would like. Although Ricky Ponting is not going through the tribulations that Mark Taylor was going through eight years ago, he does face a test of character as leader of the side and, make no mistake, as a batsman whose one technical weakness is being ruthlessly worked upon. Some day, some Australian captain would inevitably lose the Ashes - but woe betide that man. Ponting has to avoid that line of thought altogether, but that would be easier said than done. I'm jumping the gun here, of course, there are still three matches to go, and Australia are still the team to beat. But England have proven they can do it, and that's why every ticket in this series is sold out. - Nanda Kishore

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