Ashes 2015: Damian Fleming: The Aussie Angle

 

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The Independent Online

 

 

 

The ruthlessness of this outfit reminds me of Tugga’s glory days – long may it continue

 

I know if Steve Waugh was captaining the Australian team his theme for day three would be “ruthlessness”. Do not let England back into this game. 

He was a very influential man in our era within the team even before he was made captain. His hard-nosed approach to opposition teams was born out of his tough intitation into Test cricket in the mid 1980s. It was an Australian team battling after the retirement of Greg Chappell, Rod Marsh and Dennis Lillee and the discord of the South African rebel tours. Wins were very hard to come by and ‘Tugga’ never forgot the pain.

Those early years stayed with him even in years of prolonged success. He was a captain who led best by example. His determination to win was second-to-none and there were times I sensed there was no way he was physically walking back to the dressing rooms without winning this game – he was always his best under pressure. And wanted the team his captained to play the same way. I reckon he would been proud of what he has seen of this Australian team on the first two days.

Steve Smith is in that good a form rumours are Chuck Norris is wearing a Steve Smith T-shirt! He led the way again. There is no six-month probation period for his No 3 job and the only warnings are for opposition bowlers. Blockbuster scores of 199 against West indies and now 215 at Lord’s is showing a trend of the type of ruthlessness great modern-day Australian batsmen like Chappell, Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke, who turn hundreds into double hundreds. He looks totally in control of his game playing at his own pace and at times the English bowlers looked totally perplexed how to get even a defensive stroke from him.

Is it just me or is Mitchell Johnson enjoying the Lord’s pitch a tad more than the Cardiff one? His “Motorway of Mayhem” was bowled into and proved top much for the English top order. Most Aussie supporters felt he bowled without luck in Cardiff and bowled some hostile spells on a slow pitch. The areas he has grown in since his 2009 Ashes series is his body language and maturity. This shows a lot of self confidence and control when your figures are spiralling like Charlie Sheen on a night out. But he always walked back strongly and even engaged the Barmy Army with a nod of his baggy green when he notched a 100 against his name. And he has moved on quickly his first spell was trademark fast hostile and aggressive. As a 17-year-old, Dennis Lillee proclaimed him a once-in-a-generation bowler. Not for the first time he was right on the target.

Peter Nevill looked busy and effective in his first day of Test cricket. He showed that he doesn’t average 44 in first class cricket for nothing. He’s not out of the Adam Gilchrist power-hitting mould but my, what an intelligent worker of the ball, opening up face to hit off side closing wrists to hit fine leg glances and a very quick runner between the wickets.

Time in the middle batting certainly helped his keeping and it didn’t hurt the nerves when Mitchell Starc found Adam Lyth’s outside edge to deliver Pete a “room service” catch – so called because it was easily delivered!

One of Waugh’s favourite quotes was “complacency is our enemy..” On day three I expect Australians to come out hard again and not relent on the pressure created in the first two days.

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