Carry on walloping Matilda, England

Recent form and that sensation in Cardiff present a stunning opportunity to make an Ashes point

England simply keep on beating Australia. And now so do Bangladesh. Consider the bald facts. Who has won in each of the most recent Test, one-day international and Twenty20 matches between the game's oldest enemies? And who has been the victor in the first one-day game for two years between the best team in the world and the worst?

In the first case, it is England: respectively, in Sydney in January 2003, by 225 runs; in Birmingham in September 2004, by six wickets with 21 balls to spare; and in Southampton on Monday, by 100 runs with the tourists failing to use more than a quarter of their allotted overs. In the second case, moresensationally still, it is Bangladesh, who all but stopped the world turning yesterday with a five-wicket victory in Cardiff.

England will draw further succour from that and may reflect on their own recent performances. Three different formats, three consecutive years, three different venues, three overwhelming victories. They could be the Martini Boys: any time, any place, anywhere. Of course, the simple facts obscure the greater truth of what preceded those triumphs. By the time England won at the SCG they had already surrendered the Ashes, for the eighth consecutive time, in 11 days, and when they won so handsomely at Edgbaston it was after 14 successive limited-overs defeats by Australia. At least they have a pristine record in Twenty20.

So, it would be silly to be emphatic that a pattern is emerging. It would also be foolhardy to think that the Twenty20 triumph, pleasing, nay bloody marvellous, though it was, had any bearing on anything. And it would be dangerous to think that the outcome of the NatWest Series and the NatWest Challenge ­ the first of seven matches between the sides takes place in Bristol today ­ will influence the conduct of the Ashes. And yet with each passing day ­ especially one like yesterday ­ it is possible to wonder if Australia are fatally weakened somewhere.

It was the Ashes that came hurtling to mind yesterday when it was announced that Simon Jones will leave the squad for a week of rehab-ilitation on his sore right knee ­ though scans have given it the all-clear. Jones has been replaced in the squad by Chris Tremlett, of Hampshire, who has begun this season in splendid fettle and increasingly looks the part with his height, accuracy and bounce.

There is an argument that Tremlett should have had his opportunity earlier this season, but England have been fortunate previously in unearthing new players through injury to others, as Marcus Trescothick, James Anderson and Andrew Strauss would testify. Tremlett for the Ashes, then.

If England can win again today the feeling will grow that the side either carefully designed or cobbled together (take your pick) by the coach, Duncan Fletcher, and the captain, Michael Vaughan, are capable of going places. It is already apparent that they are not intimidated by Australia.

Fletcher, a man not given to overblown talk, was certain of one thing when he reflected on the ICC Champions Trophy semi-final. At the time, late last month, his statements seemed rather bold, not least because of whose mouth they were coming from. But the way in which England won the Twenty20 on Monday began to demonstrate that he had a point. Incidentally, Australia lost five wickets for one run, and the only time they have done that in a Test was in 1934 at Lord's, the last time England beat them at the ground. An arcane portent, but after the shellings England have received, any portent in a storm will suffice.

It was not the fact that England at last won a one-dayer against Australia ­ they were bound eventually to do that ­ but the manner of it. "I feel it was important we won at Edgbaston that day, although it was one-day cricket," Fletcher said. "It was pretty clinical. It wasn't a game where we scrambled home, or where a little bit of luck was involved. We set some sort of standard. I believe we can play better. If we all play to that ability we've got a good Test side. The guys are confident and exciting and we haven't reached our true potential yet."

Fletcher was suggesting that the Trophy win could have an effect because it did so much to stoke self-belief. The chief memories of it are of Stephen Harmison giving Matthew Hayden the hurry-up, of Vaughan counter-attacking, reminding us again that he moves up a gear when the opposition demand it, and of Brett Lee attempting to put the frighteners on Andrew Flintoff. There were several other vignettes. All concerned knew that it might, just, have repercussions.

If that works for England at Nevill Road today, then Nevill Road could work on some-thing later in the piece. The precedent is not convincing, as England hammered Australia in the 1997 one-day series, swept them aside in the First Test and were then inexorably juggernauted out of the Ashes.

But Fletcher has made himself clear. "Last year we got ourselves out of some deep holes. It shows character in the side, and you need character to break down barriers. Confidence and self-belief, that's what it is all about."

It is important that England suffer no more injuries and stop experimenting, which means settling on an opening partnership. Since Nick Knight's retirement, England have used six pairings in 42 matches. They started with Trescothick and Vikram Solanki, ditched them, then went back to them. They flirted with Geraint Jones, but now seem to have jettisoned that late in the planning, since Jones was saying last week how determined he was to be an opener.

By contrast, Australia have had ­ wait for it ­ 12 different pairs in 56 matches. But Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden have featured in 34 together and 20 individually.

It would be useful toEngland's pretensions to the 2007 World Cup if they could decide that Trescothick and Strauss were the chosen ones. England are not established enough yet to be flexible, and the suggestion that Strauss replaced Jones because of more sporting English pitches was disingenuous. It was after all against Bangladesh at The Oval, the truest of pitches on which England play in England.

At any rate, Jones should be more comfy at No 7. He is too easily maligned, but among England's one-day keepers he has a higher batting average than all except Alec Stewart, easily the best scoring rate and also the most dismissals per match.

Australia are smarting. England will have to be razor-sharp in every element, not least fielding, where Jones is influential. Today could begin to tell us if Vaughan's team really can keep on winning.

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
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

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone