The England manager, Graham Saville, is intent on instilling that characteristic southern hemisphere steeliness in England's next generation of Test players. Sports psychologists have been appointed to strengthen his squad's mental attitude for this three-match Under-19 series against New Zealand.
Initial skirmishes - a drawn one-day series and an evenly balanced first three days in this NatWest Test - suggest that the side with the more honed approach could prosper. Just two members of the injury-hit England side lack experience of first-team county cricket. Even so, Saville, a former Essex batsman, believes that the manner in which a player reacts to international duty is really what sorts the men from the boys.
"It's the 'England' thing," he said. "A few have said they are more nervous than for their county debuts. We try to find out whether they can cope with that kind of pressure. It is not a natural thing for English people to be competitive - we tend to be rather nice. The higher profile has helped foster that competitiveness, with sponsorship and television coverage it is a big honour to play for this team."
England, though, in the sturdy shape of David Sales, took the fight to the tourists who had surrendered the last three wickets of their first innings to the spin pair of Yorkshire's Gareth Batty and Glamorgan's Dean Cosker. Seven of the England side who lost to Pakistan at Lord's last week progressed through the Under-19 ranks, and Sales is tipped by Saville to make the grade.
His blustery 77 was consolidated by Middlesex's Owais Shah and Surrey's Ben Hollioake, one of several batsmen to fall victim to poor shot selection, in the face of dogged defensive bowling by the medium-pacer McMillan and the spinners Daniel Vettori and Nathan Morland on a slow and dry track.Reuse content