From wimps to titans in one bound. England, it seems, have been transformed by their improbably convincing victory against Pakistan in the World Twenty20 and instead of being scared of their own shadow are now dauntless, ready to grab the world by the throat.
Kevin Pietersen, unsurprisingly the main protagonist after making a comeback almost as unexpected as England's, said yesterday: "England teams have played with fear for quite a while now. They think about consequences, about what has been written in the media.
"But they went out there against Pakistan and said, 'We're going to put on a performance, not worry about what happens, go out there and play positive cricket.' It was outstanding."
If Pietersen was slightly melodramatic, it was understandable. There was no mistaking the difference in the team: England played with panache. Pakistan, it is true, were as lacklustre as England had been on Friday but that was partly because their opponents were so vibrant. The crowd loved it too and The Oval was buzzing.
"This was similar to the final day of the Ashes in 2005," said Pietersen. "It was brilliant, the crowd shouting, 'Engerland, Engerland'. The crowds will be great around the country, I'm sure."
Pietersen played after a cortisone injection in his back appeared to remove the pain in his Achilles heel which forced him to miss the first match. It seems the nerve running from back to heel is the cause of the trouble and it remains a worry.
"It's a case of managing it and trying to make sure that it doesn't flare. I'm far from 100 per cent but what cures it is two months, probably three, out of the game and that's not going to happen."Reuse content