Ashes 2013-14: Memories of Frank Tyson and Indian fightback soothe battered England squad following departure of Jonathan Trott

The tourists must come from behind if they are to win a fourth successive Ashes series

Cricket Correspondent

Six England cricketers went to Uluru today. They probably needed all the spiritual uplift obtainable after the series of unfortunate events that have afflicted the tourists in the past few days and few sights on earth stir the soul as much as Australia’s sacred, most famous landmark, also known as Ayers Rock.

The rest of the party stayed behind in Alice Springs, the red centre of the country, doubtless seeking a period of rest, recreation and reflection. This unprecedented excursion for a two-day match at Traeger Park feels a little like an expeditionary force to spread the word of cricket, which remains one of the purposes of MCC tours abroad but was long since abandoned by England.

It may be precisely what is required to recover from the buffeting of the past week. England’s players were more relaxed than they might have been as they left Queensland. Perhaps they were simply relieved to get the heck out of the place. A town like Alice may be just the ticket. The locals are genuinely excited and sent a welcome committee to the airport.

History, as well as the life force that is Mitchell Johnson, is largely against England coming back. England have now lost 11 of the 20 opening Tests they have played at The Gabba in Brisbane and only once on the previous 10 occasions did they manage to go on to win the Ashes. Equally, they proceeded to win the series following three of their four victories at the ground.

But that does not mean that all hope should be abandoned before the second Test in Adelaide next week. Far from it. Here is Andy Flower, the England coach, on the subject of comebacks: “Let’s judge our batsmen at the end of this tour, not after one Test match. We have to overturn what seems predictable at the moment.

“I am excited about that challenge as I was before the first Test. It will be interesting to see if we are good enough to do that.” But this was not Flower post-Brisbane, this was Flower post-Ahmedabad last year on the Indian tour. Then, England’s batsmen had to adjust quickly to Indian spin and managed to win the series 2-1, now they must repel Johnson, Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle, but above all, Johnson.

Flower was correct to point out, this time post-Brisbane, that Nathan Lyon, Australia’s off-spinner took key wickets in the opening Test. It is, however, hard to avoid the thought that, well as Lyon bowled, the batsmen might have taken their eyes off the ball. Sooner or later, they knew, Johnson and his pals would return.

England have made a virtue of being loyal to players but now they have to take hard decisions. These concern Ian Bell or Joe Root for Jonathan Trott at No 3, a new No 6, either Jonny Bairstow or Gary Ballance – who would be making his debut – and another third seamer. Tim Bresnan, soon to become an official member of the touring party, stayed behind in Queensland and will play a three-day match for the England Performance Programme XI this week.

The intention is that if he comes through it, he will be available for the Adelaide Test. Bresnan is a solid and skilful all-round cricketer and it is probably no accident that of the 21 Test matches he has played, England have lost only two. But he is probably benefiting at present from the old truth that you always seem a better player when you are out of a losing team that when you are in it.

These tourists may take some solace from the fact that in 1954-55, their reversal in the opening Test – by an innings and 154 runs – was greater than their defeat on Sunday evening, which was by a mere 381 runs. The turnaround 59 years ago was effected because they found in Frank Tyson a fast bowler at his zenith. There is no Tyson in the ranks this time, no-one who can ruffle the opposition at 90mph as Johnson can. Yet less than a year ago, it was only mildly idle talk that Steve Finn might test the speed gun to it limits by reaching 100mph in New Zealand.

Finn has lost impetus since and, like Tyson then, he has had a dichotomy over his run-up: short or long. Tyson went short between the first and second Test and Australia reaped the whirlwind as he took 25 wickets in the next three Tests.

Tyson, a cerebral chap who became a university lecturer in Australia and still lives on the Gold Coast, kept a diary on that tour. In it he told a lovely story about one of his veteran opponents, Keith Miller, which England may like to think on now.

“How I admire Miller,” he wrote. “He saw me looking worried and asked after the cause of my anxiety. He then helped to put matters into perspective by enquiring if I could remember what I was worrying about a year previously.

“When I answered that I couldn’t, he made the wonderfully perspicacious observation which put everything in true proportion: ‘Then why were you worrying then and why are you worrying now?’”

Of course, a year ago, England were worrying about how they might come back from disastrous defeat in India.

New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all