Australians feel at home having turned a corner
Australia have a spring in their step and a song in their heart. This is not only because they have arrived in Worcester where, in days of yore, their tours traditionally began and Don Bradman usually scored a hundred beneath the cathedral.
True, the familiarity bequeathed by history is no bad thing, but these tourists will be more concerned with the here and now.
The 2013 Ashes trip started in earnest at Taunton on Saturday where they ended the match against Somerset with a rousing six-wicket win.
It was exactly what the Aussies needed after another tumultuous week which began with the sacking of coach Mickey Arthur barely two weeks before the start of the Ashes. But suddenly, they feel good about life again.
This does not make them favourites to beat England, win the series and recapture the great prize – but it undoubtedly makes them harder to beat. They demonstrated quite enough in Taunton to show their bowlers will be a handful for the home nation.
James Pattinson is seriously quick and the other fast bowlers in the attack are not exactly military medium. They will need a little more out of Peter Siddle, their trustiest combatant in recent times, and he will presumably be given another run-out against Worcestershire in the second and final warm-up match before the eagerly- anticipated series starts next Wednesday.
Siddle was discernibly down on pace in Taunton and will need to find another gear or two going forward. Ryan Harris, another steely, skilful competitor, will be given a chance to stake his claim in what will probably be a three-man seam attack complemented by a spinner.
The veteran batsman Chris Rogers will play against Worcestershire with a definite view to being in the Test side. He may have been a surprise inclusion in the touring squad at the age of 35, after playing only one previous Test, but has not been brought along to carry the drinks.
After vice-captain Brad Haddin hurried Australia to victory on Saturday with a muscular fifty in 48 balls, there was the feeling things could hardly have gone better. Indeed, so well did it go that Phil Hughes, scorer of two half-centuries, could not resist talking about the Australian way.
He meant bold, attacking, fearless cricket, which Darren Lehmann has already told his new charges he expects. It was the manner in which he played and which kept them at the top of the world for so long.
There is, however, the potential for it all to go horribly wrong as this is a different, less richly-gifted set of players. Convictions about the manner in which to play may well suffer a setback if there are signs of trouble.
For now, Australia feel their tour has been turned around by the encouraging actions of last week.
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