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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Sudan, the last male northern white rhino
environmentThe death of a white northern rhino in Kenya has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth