Mark Butcher: Stick with players and look what happens

Events so far have been extraordinary, and to think before it started it was predicted that Australia might win 5-0, that Ashley Giles would not take a wicket and that England would be in a stranglehold. All these predictions looked as though they were going to be there or thereabouts after the tourists' emphatic victory in the First Test at Lord's.

Well, that was three weeks ago, and since then England have effectively dominated two Tests in a row. True, they won one by a mere two runs and had to settle for a draw in the other, but the home side had by far the better of both matches. In sporting terms that is an absolutely staggering turnaround and to do it England have shown bottle and character - call it what you will - of the very highest order.

Of course, they have played well, very well, but much of it is to do with the fact that they held their nerve after the initial defeat. Batsmen have played their shots and exposed the fact that Australia have only four bowlers. That means that if one of them is out of form you are effectively down to three bowlers.

In addition, England's bowlers have also been bristling with aggression, putting pressure on the opposition top order, working them over to an extent, and then using reverse swing with wonderful effect. Giles, far from having no wickets in the series, now has eight, and is playing a significant part.

It is Australia who have the selection difficulties, who are struggling with players out of form. England are likely to go to Nottingham unchanged.

Some of this has to do with making sure that they did not panic after the Lord's reversal. In the past in series against Australia, because the Ashes mean so much, the temptation has always been to find Plan B. That did not happen this time. England stuck with the players and, just as importantly, stuck with the policy. We are now in a position where we can regain the Ashes.

There has naturally been talk of where the momentum lies. I think it is significant that there is a break between the matches, because otherwise I think the fact that they got out of Manchester with a draw after losing the first three days would favour the Aussies.

I remember in Durban last winter we staged a fantastic comeback after being all out cheaply in the first innings, and put ourselves in a position where we were going to win and go 2-0 up. But bad light curtailed play on the last day and South Africa got away with a draw. The next Test started two days later, and far from being one of jubilation the mood in our dressing room was subdued. We were well beaten.

However, these Tests are not back to back. The timing is an important factor, because England will have had a chance to rest, to go away, to forget about cricket for a couple of days, to clear their minds. By the time the Fourth Test begins the Third Test will be a memory, and they will be able to remember just how well they have played against the world champions.

Another word should go in the direction of Simon Jones, who is bowling superbly and is now not only a master of reverse-swing technique but has the conventional away-swinger going. He is becoming a seamer whom Michael Vaughan trusts as he trusts Freddie Flintoff and Stephen Harmison.

Of course I would like to be part of it. But I can have no regrets. I have had a time of terrible misfortune, but in 2001 I got into the team through the most fortuitous circumstances, so it has evened out. That does not mean I have given up on playing for England, though. Not yet; I am not 33 until Tuesday. Other- wise I might as well retire, and there have been enough retirements lately.

peoplePaper attempts to defend itself
voicesWe desperately need men to be feminists too
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
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

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits