Defensive fields can be an attacking option
It's obviously disappointing to get a 5-0 whitewash, but I'm already fully focussed on our next objective. We've got the one-dayers coming up, and I'm really excited to be given my first chance in that form of the game. Last season I played in the Twenty20 stuff and the one-day competitions for Northants, so I feel ready and all my energies are focussed there. I can't wait for the first training session. We've got a talented team, and we've just got to back each other.
This tour probably hasn't quite sunk in with the way everything's gone, but it's been brilliant playing against Australia, the best team in the world. I don't think the results show a fair reflection of how we've done on this tour, especially with this team and at this young age for me. The experience has been invaluable. We tried 100% and everyone gave all they've got, but credit to Australia. They played the better cricket.
I think I've changed a few people's perceptions of me as a cricketer, but I've just got to continue with what I'm doing. The work I'm putting in is going in the right direction, but it's important I don't rest on any laurels. I want to keep developing as a player, because there is a long way to go. In that sense, this has been a good tour because the lessons have been invaluable. It's the future that will tell how much this experience has helped me.
It really helps that I enjoy training. I see it as fun. I give it my best all the time and I want continue to do that. I'm heading straight back into the nets this week to get ready for the one-dayers, because I just get energy from playing cricket. I love the training, and talking to cricketers, and getting their views on cricket ... I just like cricket.
Talking of which, I finally got a chance to talk to Shane Warne after the Sydney Test was finished. We all went into the Australian dressing-room and had a chat and a beer and a laugh with their players. Obviously I've been watching Warne for the last 14 years on TV, and sometimes you think: "Am I really speaking to him right now, face to face?" These are really special moments, and you really appreciate it when he talks to you.
We talked about bowling the ball at different paces and different angles, and it was fantastic just to listen to him. And he gave me some advice for the one-dayers as well, because we talked about the different fields you get and where the batsmen are likely to hit you. He's just a magician in the spinning field, and it was utterly brilliant just to talk to him. I had a chance to speak to Murali in the summer as well, but it doesn't make you a better spinner just by speaking to the best in the world. You've still got to go out there and apply their advice in best way you can. It's all up to me now.
Generally I like to be an attacking spinner, but it really depends on the situation of the game and who's dictating. It's been a good experience for me to have the Aussies come after me in the Tests, because it means you're always thinking on your feet and learning to do things differently. I couldn't really pick any one batsman who gave me more problems than the others. They all have their own strengths and weaknesses, but to be honest they are so good they all gave me problems.
I bowled to some fairly defensive fields in the final two Tests, but that's because Australia were on top and we needed control. They probably were slightly too defensive, but sometimes defensive can actually be attacking, because you've got people back on the ropes and you know you can afford to give it more air. Sometimes when the batsmen are a bit on top, you try an in-and-out field, which is quite attacking, but it all depends. Defensive fields can be an attacking option, as well as a means of getting control of the game.
I had one new experience at Sydney - I was sent in as night-watchman, and I really enjoyed the chance. The next day I wanted to stay in as long as I could. Just being out there in such an intense environment against the best team in the world, I would have felt the improvement happening even while I was out in the middle. Unfortunately things didn't go as planned and I got run out for 0 which, to be honest, was a weak dismissal, but hopefully I can keep developing these skills in other areas.
Kevin Pietersen was out in the middle when I arrived, and he gave me some useful advice. He was telling me to play straight and not try to sweep Warne, and to watch out for his flipper as well. He tends to set you up by bowling a little wider, then following up with the straight ball. I can't pick the flipper, but I just watch the ball closely and hope, more than anything, that it just hits the middle of the bat. Then at least I know I'm there for the next ball.
It's been a tough series but a memorable one. To take a five-for on my Ashes debut was definitely a special memory, although getting out to Warne in the same game when Australia won the Ashes, that wasn't the best feeling. Andrew Flintoff has been inspirational to me as captain, while Duncan Fletcher has been such a strong character, whether things were going well or badly. He doesn't say a lot but I do value his comments because they have impact. They've both been great to me.
And now it's over to the one-dayers, where it tends to be about the batsmen against the run-rate, so I'll have to bowl in the right areas. Hopefully, if I get a chance in this series and perform well, then I'll have a good chance of going to the World Cup, but to be honest, I prefer not to look too far ahead. I want to focus on the present, and that means looking forward to our first training session. I'm really excited about this opportunity.