Déjà vu Down Under
Posted in England in Australia 2010-11
Then, as now, England’s 50-over outfit came in for heavy criticism - as much for the manner of individual defeats as the series scoreline.
Then, as now, a global one-day tournament followed hot on the heels of the ODIs. In 2009 it was the Champions Trophy; soon it will be the World Cup.
England had just four days between their last ODI against Australia - their sole victory - and their first Champions Trophy encounter.
Those tourists in Perth yesterday also heading for the World Cup on Saturday have three days at home between the two.
Fortunately in 2009 England only had to travel to South Africa, whose time zone is only marginally ahead of the UK’s.
Even so, expectations were hardly sky high for a team set to face Sri Lanka, the hosts and New Zealand in the group stage.
Defeat to the Black Caps, who required victory to progress, meant they would play Australia for a place in the final.
Like in the NatWest Series that preceded the Champions Trophy, England were outclassed. Unbeaten centuries from Shane Watson and Ricky Ponting completed a nine-wicket win and a repeat performance from Watson saw off New Zealand in the final.
So what to make of this relative to England’s prospects in the World Cup? Avoid Australia at all costs, cynics may argue. But it goes to show that a disappointing build-up can be quickly forgotten with early victories in the competition proper.
Indeed, Australia warmed up for the 2007 showpiece, in which they won every game, by surrendering the Commonwealth Bank Series to England and being whitewashed in New Zealand.
Although Ricky Ponting’s side swept all before them in the last World Cup, played in the Caribbean, they will again need to adapt to alien conditions - this time on the sub-continent.
Is it significant that the last time Australia did not win the World Cup was when it was in Asia?
The raft of injuries England and Australia have will only complicate the transition in approach required.
Six members of England’s Commonwealth Bank Series squad - Graeme Swann, Tim Bresnan, Ajmal Shahzad, Chris Tremlett, Paul Collingwood and Eoin Morgan - left Australia early, while Australia are sweating on three members of their World Cup party: Ricky Ponting, Mike Hussey and Nathan Hauritz.
Both sets of coaches and medical teams face tricky decisions over the coming days as to which of their injured stars should be retained in 15-man squads.
The majority of these problems, as England team director Andy Flower observed, stem from a 100-day tour.
The tourists’ arrival Down Under on November 30 seems a distant memory but it is undoubtedly the first two thirds of the trip that will remain most vivid.
As Strauss stressed at the conclusion of the one-day series, it is the Ashes triumph that will be chiefly remembered.
Much more so than 2009’s 2-1 margin, three innings victories meant it was undoubtedly a convincing win for England.