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A long way to go yet

By Glen Robertson

It has become commonplace to jump to premature conclusions in modern sport.

Not a day goes past without some team or player being written off by onlookers.

Think of the outpouring of emotion by Arsenal fans on the opening day of the football season when they were beaten by Aston Villa in the English Premier League. There were calls for Arsene Wenger to be sacked. Now, all of four months later, the Gunners are sitting clear at the top of the league.

Or the amount of people who said Rafael Nadal would not be the same player after his prolonged spell on the sidelines, only for him to return better than ever and add to his growing number of Grand Slams.

How many of us wrote off Durham's chances of winning the LV= County Championship before this season even got under way?

So it is a brave person who would back against Alastair Cook's men bouncing back from this opening defeat of the Ashes series in Brisbane.

Alastair Cook congratulates Australia counterpart Michael Clarke following England's defeat in the opening Ashes rubber. The skipper will already be plotting a quick recovery at AdelaideWhile the nature of the loss is hard to take for the England fans, only a fool would believe that the series was done and dusted already.

Australia have a phenomenal record at the Gabba - they have gone 25 years without suffering a Test defeat at the ground - and they put on a superb display of hostile pace bowling to take control.

But it does not make this England side a bad one.

Just one year ago, similar doomsday predictions were made after the nine-wicket defeat to India in the opening Test match. England went on to win the series 2-1 - a maiden success in India since 1985.

That defeat was the first of Cook's captaincy after he succeeded Andrew Strauss at the helm. Today's loss was only his second.

That was a run of 13 Tests without a defeat; three against India, five versus New Zealand and five against Australia.

England remain a very good side, who have responded to numerous challenges over the past few years, in all sorts of conditions.

Andy Flower and Cook will be stressing this point to the players throughout the build-up to the second Test at Adelaide - where three years ago England completed an emphatic innings-and-71-run victory, with Kevin Pietersen recording a double-hundred, Cook scoring 148 and Graeme Swann taking a second-innings five-for.

There is a two-day match against a Cricket Australia Chairman's XI in Alice Springs on Friday and Saturday, which will give the players a chance to hone their skills further, while the net sessions will be as competitive as ever.

It will not have escaped people's attention that in the famous 2005 series, Australia won the first Test at Lord's in convincing fashion. Four thrilling contests later, England emerged as victors.

The key then was keeping positive and taking the game to Australia.

There are few things in sport as compelling as an Ashes series, and nobody involved in this year's is calling it a day yet.

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