Cricket: We should have seen it coming

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The Independent Online
After England's victory in the one-day matches, we were unable to take in the evidence of our eyes. The perceived wisdom was that Test cricket is different from the one-day game and the Australians have come principally to defend the Ashes.

With hindsight, there should have been considerably more confidence in Mike Atherton's side. They have three times beaten Australia most comprehensively, having outplayed them in all departments of the game. The corresponding inflow and outflow of confidence had been extreme.

No matter that one-day cricket is an exhibition and Test cricket the true examination - confidence does not easily distinguish between the two. The Australian batting was vulnerable, the seam bowling inexperienced and the captain's form in ruins. Moreover, they hardly put things right in their first-class matches before the first Test - they lost to Derbyshire.

They came to Edgbaston in no sort of mental condition to take on England. Particularly damaging was the realisation that the side they had come to destroy now had the upper hand. Having had so little time to prepare themselves for the series, the Australians not only knew they had a real fight on their hands, but they then won a toss they would have given anything to lose.

Going by the last two Tests here, against the West Indies in 1995 and India a year ago, the pitch and the bounce grew steadily worse. Therefore Taylor opted to bat, only to discover the opposite was true. When your luck is down, fate finds all sorts of way of kicking you in the backside.

Australia and Taylor yesterday had the luck England have often experienced against Australia - but that still does not explain our refusal to believe what was staring us in the face.

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