January 7, 2014

Pain can drive us to new heights

England have hit rock bottom, and now it's time to emerge from the rubble and start rebuilding
  shares 28

It's hard to describe the emotions within the England camp as we reflect on the result of the Ashes series.

Everywhere we go in Sydney we are met by England supporters who spent a fortune to come and cheer us on. We know we let them and ourselves down and the feelings of guilt and frustration and disappointment are hard to take.

We came to Australia with high hopes of creating history. We knew we were in for a tough scrap - anyone who suggests we were complacent just doesn't know this team - and we knew our 3-0 victory in the summer was a bit flattering. But to lose 5-0, by the margins we have lost these games, is unacceptable. I can only apologise to all the people, here and at home, who we have let down.

We have to give credit to Australia. Their bowling attack was outstanding, their planning was excellent and their ruthlessness admirable. We can learn from some of those traits.

The seamers, Johnson, Harris and Siddle, were exceptionally good, right up there with the South Africa trio of Steyn, Morkel and Philander. Mitchell Johnson bowled about as fast as anything I have faced - right up there with Brett Lee, Shaun Tait and Shoaib Akhtar - and proved too quick for the tail to deal with, in particular.

They learned so much from the summer, too. They had individual plans for every batsman - clever fields, clever lines of attack - and they executed those plans brilliantly. They planned better than us and they executed the plans they had better than us. We were outplayed, outskilled and out-thought. The best team won.

But the frustrating aspect of this defeat is the knowledge that we didn't do ourselves justice. There were so many soft dismissals and so many mistakes in the field that we hardly gave ourselves a chance. We didn't give our bowlers the support they required - either in the field or by batting long enough to give them a sufficient break between innings - and we never found the balance between crease occupation and positive batting that would have earned us the initiative.

We're at rock bottom right now. We know that, after a defeat like this, people will move on and the team will change. Several people who started this tour may not play Test cricket again. We know that the era that this team enjoyed is over and there will be casualties.

But sometimes rock bottom provides a firm foundation. Sometimes you need to clear away the old to start anew. Perhaps, from the rubble of this series, a new team can be built that will enjoy better times in the future. Perhaps the team that was beaten belonged to the era - the wonderful era - of Andrew Strauss and the future belongs to Alastair Cook.

I hope I still have a big part to play in that. This series has not gone anything like I had hoped but I have still scored 797 runs in the ten Tests against Australia - and 1000 runs in 2013 - and I still feel I can be a senior player in a developing side for the next four or five years.

I've no doubt that Cooky is the man to lead us into the future. He retains the utmost respect of everyone in the dressing room and, even though he didn't score the runs he would have wanted in this series, you don't become the youngest man to 8000 Test runs without being an exceptional player. I know a few people are suggesting we need a change of leader - I've even seen my own name bandied around - but I am fully behind Cooky. He has my absolute faith and support.

Our dressing room was a pretty sombre place after the defeat. We didn't need a bollocking. Some honest words were said but it wasn't the time to go into everything in detail. We have five months before we play another Test. There will be time for that.

Instead we went into the Australia dressing room for a few drinks. There have been some tough moments on the field, but off the pitch, there is no problem between the sides. It was a good thing to do and they were very gracious in victory. They deserve all the credit they receive.

But we can learn from this and we can come back hard. Just as Australia bounced back from defeats in 2005 and 2013, we can go away, look at where we went wrong and improve. You are bound to have bad days in sport. How you respond to them often defines you as a player.

So after the limited-overs series is done, I expect to have some time off and return to county cricket at the start of the season. I expect the captain and the coach to get together and come up with some plans for the future and then to let us know which direction they want us to go.

We're hurting right now but that's no bad thing. If this result didn't hurt we would have no right to be representing England. We've been hurt, humiliated and humbled. We won't achieve anything by pretending otherwise.

But sometimes the mark of a real champion is how they come back from a knockdown. From the pain of this defeat, we can build a new team and a new era. It may take some time but we have to use this pain to drive us to new heights in the future.

A fixture in England's middle order for almost a decade, Ian Bell has played in four Ashes-winning sides

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY pestonji on | January 14, 2014, 2:54 GMT

    Thank god Bell has not fallen victim to English self flagellation. This is a team in transition which happens to every team.

  • POSTED BY Insult_2_Injury on | January 14, 2014, 2:05 GMT

    There's a lot of derision about 'mental disintegration' but it is merely another way of looking at what players describe as 'soft'. Below par performance is hard to change in a team when the opposition has the belief that they can dominate your team. That produces second guessing of form and ability and can snowball into embarrassing performances. No doubt whatsoever that is symptomatic of England's 5 Test whitewash.

  • POSTED BY WC96QF on | January 13, 2014, 17:27 GMT

    Bell shud be appreciated for the frank and fair assessment - and his apology to fans. Eng fans can't ask for more than that. I think the entire team shud take some time off and think coolly and calmly. Bell has every chance of being an impt part of the re-building. All the best to him and his team.

  • POSTED BY VikramShetty on | January 10, 2014, 8:48 GMT

    why opening pair is changed ...that was main reason for failure. Cook & Root done well in Eng ... why not that continued in Aus...

  • POSTED BY on | January 9, 2014, 15:11 GMT

    4 0f 4 We need to find two good and reliable opening bats and an effective number three - then if four to six do not perform, that is when harsh decisions should be taken. To take them now is premature and absurd in the context of the last Test Series.

  • POSTED BY on | January 9, 2014, 15:09 GMT

    3 of 3 The knock on effect is that Bell and Pietersen are both facing much harder and newer balls and are being expected to perform as openers. This is a recipe for disaster and disaster was what it brought us, as the whole team were then exposed to bowling normally encountered by higher order batsmen. The concomitant effect on our bowlers is that they have to defend a very low score which by its very nature puts undue pressure on their bowling as all leaked runs add to the stress. We were not at all helped by losing four out of five tosses, the early departure of Swann nor the intermittent injuries sustained by key players Broad and Panesar. To lay all of the above on Pietersen's door beggars belief. The selectors, coach and captain need to recognise all the factors that have affected the play before making specious and spurious connections and laying blame without understanding. We need to find two good and reliable opening bats and an effective number three - then if four to six do

  • POSTED BY on | January 9, 2014, 15:08 GMT

    2 of 3 Australia have been successful because they have analysed at length the strength and weakness of every single established and recently introduced English player and quietly,methodically and assiduously targeted all the key weaknesses relentlessly with both cricketing skills and mental methods. The other main problem we have had is that after Strauss's ( and earlier Tescothick's) departure we have not been able to find an effective opening duo which has meant that number three onwards have had to bear the brunt of this.Trott was our rock but when he was left exposed to Mitchell Johnson and when this in turn exacerbated and affected his illness, the consequence was that the first three batting positions were left under strain. Cook has been weakened by not having an effective partner and together with all the strains of captaincy, his batting has been adversely affected too.

  • POSTED BY on | January 9, 2014, 15:06 GMT

    1 of 3

    I am amazed and saddened by the way all the blame of the recent Ashes debacle should fall on the head of one person - Kevin Pietersen. Cricket is a team game and individuals contribute different aspects.

    We have a batting order so that each person in that line-up brings a different batting profile and competence to the game. The openers - batters one and two - take the shine off the ball and soften the ball. Three builds on this and four to six or seven, play shots to consolidate a position. Kevin Pietersen has played a pivotal role in England's wins over the years. Even in his debut match at Lords in 2005 he was the highest scorer in England's dismal total though his score was still meagre by normal standards by being below 70 in each innings. What does it say about the captain and the coach if one man can single handedly influence all the youngsters? The cautious play of yesteryear gave us the wilderness years.

  • POSTED BY DaisonGarvasis on | January 9, 2014, 7:19 GMT

    @FreddyForPrimeMinister - why would Flower see the need to issue a statement "I have not given ultimatum to drop KP"? Why there was no need of a statement saying "I havent asked for Cook to be dropped"? There wont be smoke without fire. This is not a courtroom where you have to give evidence to everything. This opinions that we are stating here. You must be backing Flower and that is your opinion. I am entitled for mine.

  • POSTED BY disco_bob on | January 9, 2014, 6:30 GMT

    @Mitty2, Cook also said this was the best bowling attack he has ever played against, and that would include SA in England.

  • POSTED BY pestonji on | January 14, 2014, 2:54 GMT

    Thank god Bell has not fallen victim to English self flagellation. This is a team in transition which happens to every team.

  • POSTED BY Insult_2_Injury on | January 14, 2014, 2:05 GMT

    There's a lot of derision about 'mental disintegration' but it is merely another way of looking at what players describe as 'soft'. Below par performance is hard to change in a team when the opposition has the belief that they can dominate your team. That produces second guessing of form and ability and can snowball into embarrassing performances. No doubt whatsoever that is symptomatic of England's 5 Test whitewash.

  • POSTED BY WC96QF on | January 13, 2014, 17:27 GMT

    Bell shud be appreciated for the frank and fair assessment - and his apology to fans. Eng fans can't ask for more than that. I think the entire team shud take some time off and think coolly and calmly. Bell has every chance of being an impt part of the re-building. All the best to him and his team.

  • POSTED BY VikramShetty on | January 10, 2014, 8:48 GMT

    why opening pair is changed ...that was main reason for failure. Cook & Root done well in Eng ... why not that continued in Aus...

  • POSTED BY on | January 9, 2014, 15:11 GMT

    4 0f 4 We need to find two good and reliable opening bats and an effective number three - then if four to six do not perform, that is when harsh decisions should be taken. To take them now is premature and absurd in the context of the last Test Series.

  • POSTED BY on | January 9, 2014, 15:09 GMT

    3 of 3 The knock on effect is that Bell and Pietersen are both facing much harder and newer balls and are being expected to perform as openers. This is a recipe for disaster and disaster was what it brought us, as the whole team were then exposed to bowling normally encountered by higher order batsmen. The concomitant effect on our bowlers is that they have to defend a very low score which by its very nature puts undue pressure on their bowling as all leaked runs add to the stress. We were not at all helped by losing four out of five tosses, the early departure of Swann nor the intermittent injuries sustained by key players Broad and Panesar. To lay all of the above on Pietersen's door beggars belief. The selectors, coach and captain need to recognise all the factors that have affected the play before making specious and spurious connections and laying blame without understanding. We need to find two good and reliable opening bats and an effective number three - then if four to six do

  • POSTED BY on | January 9, 2014, 15:08 GMT

    2 of 3 Australia have been successful because they have analysed at length the strength and weakness of every single established and recently introduced English player and quietly,methodically and assiduously targeted all the key weaknesses relentlessly with both cricketing skills and mental methods. The other main problem we have had is that after Strauss's ( and earlier Tescothick's) departure we have not been able to find an effective opening duo which has meant that number three onwards have had to bear the brunt of this.Trott was our rock but when he was left exposed to Mitchell Johnson and when this in turn exacerbated and affected his illness, the consequence was that the first three batting positions were left under strain. Cook has been weakened by not having an effective partner and together with all the strains of captaincy, his batting has been adversely affected too.

  • POSTED BY on | January 9, 2014, 15:06 GMT

    1 of 3

    I am amazed and saddened by the way all the blame of the recent Ashes debacle should fall on the head of one person - Kevin Pietersen. Cricket is a team game and individuals contribute different aspects.

    We have a batting order so that each person in that line-up brings a different batting profile and competence to the game. The openers - batters one and two - take the shine off the ball and soften the ball. Three builds on this and four to six or seven, play shots to consolidate a position. Kevin Pietersen has played a pivotal role in England's wins over the years. Even in his debut match at Lords in 2005 he was the highest scorer in England's dismal total though his score was still meagre by normal standards by being below 70 in each innings. What does it say about the captain and the coach if one man can single handedly influence all the youngsters? The cautious play of yesteryear gave us the wilderness years.

  • POSTED BY DaisonGarvasis on | January 9, 2014, 7:19 GMT

    @FreddyForPrimeMinister - why would Flower see the need to issue a statement "I have not given ultimatum to drop KP"? Why there was no need of a statement saying "I havent asked for Cook to be dropped"? There wont be smoke without fire. This is not a courtroom where you have to give evidence to everything. This opinions that we are stating here. You must be backing Flower and that is your opinion. I am entitled for mine.

  • POSTED BY disco_bob on | January 9, 2014, 6:30 GMT

    @Mitty2, Cook also said this was the best bowling attack he has ever played against, and that would include SA in England.

  • POSTED BY FreddyForPrimeMinister on | January 9, 2014, 6:13 GMT

    @DaisonGarvasis on (January 9, 2014, 5:25 GMT) - these sort of comments make my blood boil. Where on earth is there ANY evidence on which to base your assertion that "Flower is trying to bring up KP as the scapegoat." Name me one single quote from Andy Flower that backs up what you state. To my knowledge Flower hasn't mentioned a single player's name except Cook, and that to back him. Comments like yours should be reserved for the trashy foreign and gutter press (like the Daily Mail) not a serious cricketing website. Kindly get your facts right before stating them.

  • POSTED BY DaisonGarvasis on | January 9, 2014, 5:25 GMT

    After such a pathetic tour, ECB is still trying to go with Flower and Cook. Flower is trying to bring up KP as the scapegoat. England now dont have a geniune spin bowler to show. Captain is clue less, batting is clue less as well. While fielding, Anderson and Broad dont care what Cook want as Captian, they set their field and do what they want. Players quit half way through an important tour. And yet, ECB want NO CHANGE!

  • POSTED BY playfaircricket on | January 9, 2014, 5:23 GMT

    Through out this article bell didn't mention a single time the importance of this ODI series , England doesn't think about ODI's atall , dumny in ODI's

  • POSTED BY on | January 9, 2014, 5:22 GMT

    cook made a mistake by dropping Tremlet, i donno what bresnen and panesar did?tredwel should have been used.Add bopara, morgan for the next test series but please reject IPL offer.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | January 9, 2014, 4:44 GMT

    don't very. sir

  • POSTED BY on | January 9, 2014, 2:31 GMT

    at least this summer England won't meet a IPL- severely weakened test side in May like they normally come up against. I expect Sri Lanka to have their full team out this year.

  • POSTED BY disco_bob on | January 9, 2014, 2:03 GMT

    Cheer up Ian, England still have the opportunity to lose the ODI series and the t20 if they want to really hit rock bottom.

  • POSTED BY Brownly on | January 9, 2014, 1:54 GMT

    The best thing for this English team now is some time away from the game to put things in perspective. The second best thing for this team is a captain who won't freeze in the big moments and let the pressure of captaincy affect his batting. It's a 100 to 1 chance the England setup will get rid of Cook, knowing their tendency towards conservatism, but it really is a move that should be made. From an Aussie, all the best to Bell.

  • POSTED BY winstonfg on | January 8, 2014, 20:29 GMT

    Well said Ian. Much as it pains me, as a cricket lover and England fan, to have lived through the past 2 months, I can't help feeling we were due. And I doubt whether many batsmen in the world would have fared much better against a rejuvenated Johnson on home turf doing his best to emulate Jeff Thomson and Peter Pan at the same time. I honestly haven't seen hostility like that since Allan Donald was in his prime - remember Trent Bridge? - and I wonder how many 'Atherton's are around these days that do.

    That said, we've been through it before and came back to play the best series we've ever had in Oz. With all the best will in the world, a 3-month tour for English players 'down under' is NOT the same as the Ozzers, many of whom spent their 'winters' in our county game, coming to us.

    It's done. Let's put it behind us and rebuild - and maybe take a leaf out of Darren Lehmann's book: This is a game guys; ENJOY IT, and forget the naval gazers.

    Best of luck to all.

  • POSTED BY Iddo555 on | January 8, 2014, 17:08 GMT

    Bell needs to get in Cook's ear and give him some advice. He's a top player and seems a nice guy, hoping Bell can get back to scoring big runs and winning in the English summer

  • POSTED BY Strebori on | January 8, 2014, 14:16 GMT

    Mmm. It's everything you'd expect him to say. Honest to a point, and largely unarguable. But statements like "They had individual plans for every batsman - clever fields, clever lines of attack - and they executed those plans brilliantly. They planned better than us and they executed the plans they had better than us" worry me.

    A feature of England in both 2005, and 2010-11, was that they had plans and executed them well. Take Hoggard to Hayden, Flintoff to Gilchrist in 2005. Or the way the test bowlers were taken to Brisbane early in 2010. This time, we had the frank admission that England had no idea how to bowl at Haddin - despite the enormous wealth of resources at their disposal (behind the scenes, as well as theoretically on the field).

    Why was this the case? What happened to England's planners? Were the players simply too arrogant to adhere to them?

  • POSTED BY timmyw on | January 8, 2014, 14:08 GMT

    You know I assume you're reading this Ian. I don't understand why "Cooky" has your absolute faith and support as captain. Friendship sure but captaincy? To be brutally honest I think you'd make a better captain and you should be doing the job from now on. He was horrendous, and his captaincy is right up there with some of the most potent reasons you lost the Ashes if not THE most potent reason. I don't think you're thinking clearly. You blokes in England need to have a real imaginative leader there. Cook is not this person, he's a great batsman and needs to stay in the side sure but a good captain on the field he isn't. It's nice you have supportive words for him but at times like this you need to be honest with yourselves. What I would have liked to hear you say is that he wasn't the greatest in the series from a tactical standpoint instead of these cliched platitudes. Being honest with yourselves is where it all starts mate.

  • POSTED BY Mitty2 on | January 8, 2014, 13:14 GMT

    Oh and Bell, credit to you for your humbleness and acknowledgement. All the more credit for facing up to the wolves and continue writing these inevitably self-flagellating articles! People like to say that this series has more been Eng being dreadful than Aus being v good, and it's nice to see a player state that it's all been due to the other team's brilliance. Well done, Ian. Keep it up.

  • POSTED BY Mitty2 on | January 8, 2014, 13:09 GMT

    Mm for all those complaining about Arthur's/Clarke's/Mcdermott's/siddle's remarks about our bowling attack - in comparison with the SA attack - now both Bell and Cook, both very accomplished players who've faced ALL attacks, are indeed saying this is one of the best (Cook said the best he's faced). The fact that statistically this Aus attack was in the top 3 ever Ashes attacks shows how good they are and have been, and this makes me all the more excited for the SA series. Steyn > MJ; Philander > Harris; Morkel < Siddle; R Peterson < Lyon. And the role of the very conservative/defensive captain (Smith) vs the attacking and tactically astute captain (clarke) will help our attack. SA's attack edges ours because of the great Steyn and they're all round success (away from home) and experience plus durability, but I reckon it's still close. What's so great about it all is the back up as well - K Abbot/De Lange vs Bird/Patto is quality!

  • POSTED BY Vakbar on | January 8, 2014, 12:35 GMT

    Good, sensible words. However, something worried me:

    "I expect the captain and the coach to get together and come up with some plans for the future and then to let us know which direction they want us to go".

    No, Ian, you are a senior player and need to be a much more proactive part of developing that strategy, or "direction", rather than be reactive. Please make damn sure they know what's on your mind, as one of the criticisms of the flower-Cook axis is the lack of alternative thinking. Which resulted in them playing a clearly not ready Root at 3 instead of an experienced, world class player like you.

  • POSTED BY dunger.bob on | January 8, 2014, 6:56 GMT

    Bell the batsman has always impressed me. He's a scary prospect when he's on song and that's pretty often when he's playing us. Now that I've had the chance to read a few of his articles I'm equally impressed with Bell the man. .. It never fails to amuse me how the players usually make a far more pragmatic, realistic and above all honest assessment of the match or series than the fans or media. Bell knows the score and I suspect he's just about the right type of tough little nugget to do something about it. .. From an unabashed aussie Bell fan.

  • POSTED BY ShutTheGate on | January 8, 2014, 5:21 GMT

    Bell you're playing Sri Lanka next, I don't think you'll have any trouble getting your confidence back playing them.

  • POSTED BY rajayca on | January 8, 2014, 4:32 GMT

    True words from a class player. Inspiring speech for young English Players.

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  • POSTED BY rajayca on | January 8, 2014, 4:32 GMT

    True words from a class player. Inspiring speech for young English Players.

  • POSTED BY ShutTheGate on | January 8, 2014, 5:21 GMT

    Bell you're playing Sri Lanka next, I don't think you'll have any trouble getting your confidence back playing them.

  • POSTED BY dunger.bob on | January 8, 2014, 6:56 GMT

    Bell the batsman has always impressed me. He's a scary prospect when he's on song and that's pretty often when he's playing us. Now that I've had the chance to read a few of his articles I'm equally impressed with Bell the man. .. It never fails to amuse me how the players usually make a far more pragmatic, realistic and above all honest assessment of the match or series than the fans or media. Bell knows the score and I suspect he's just about the right type of tough little nugget to do something about it. .. From an unabashed aussie Bell fan.

  • POSTED BY Vakbar on | January 8, 2014, 12:35 GMT

    Good, sensible words. However, something worried me:

    "I expect the captain and the coach to get together and come up with some plans for the future and then to let us know which direction they want us to go".

    No, Ian, you are a senior player and need to be a much more proactive part of developing that strategy, or "direction", rather than be reactive. Please make damn sure they know what's on your mind, as one of the criticisms of the flower-Cook axis is the lack of alternative thinking. Which resulted in them playing a clearly not ready Root at 3 instead of an experienced, world class player like you.

  • POSTED BY Mitty2 on | January 8, 2014, 13:09 GMT

    Mm for all those complaining about Arthur's/Clarke's/Mcdermott's/siddle's remarks about our bowling attack - in comparison with the SA attack - now both Bell and Cook, both very accomplished players who've faced ALL attacks, are indeed saying this is one of the best (Cook said the best he's faced). The fact that statistically this Aus attack was in the top 3 ever Ashes attacks shows how good they are and have been, and this makes me all the more excited for the SA series. Steyn > MJ; Philander > Harris; Morkel < Siddle; R Peterson < Lyon. And the role of the very conservative/defensive captain (Smith) vs the attacking and tactically astute captain (clarke) will help our attack. SA's attack edges ours because of the great Steyn and they're all round success (away from home) and experience plus durability, but I reckon it's still close. What's so great about it all is the back up as well - K Abbot/De Lange vs Bird/Patto is quality!

  • POSTED BY Mitty2 on | January 8, 2014, 13:14 GMT

    Oh and Bell, credit to you for your humbleness and acknowledgement. All the more credit for facing up to the wolves and continue writing these inevitably self-flagellating articles! People like to say that this series has more been Eng being dreadful than Aus being v good, and it's nice to see a player state that it's all been due to the other team's brilliance. Well done, Ian. Keep it up.

  • POSTED BY timmyw on | January 8, 2014, 14:08 GMT

    You know I assume you're reading this Ian. I don't understand why "Cooky" has your absolute faith and support as captain. Friendship sure but captaincy? To be brutally honest I think you'd make a better captain and you should be doing the job from now on. He was horrendous, and his captaincy is right up there with some of the most potent reasons you lost the Ashes if not THE most potent reason. I don't think you're thinking clearly. You blokes in England need to have a real imaginative leader there. Cook is not this person, he's a great batsman and needs to stay in the side sure but a good captain on the field he isn't. It's nice you have supportive words for him but at times like this you need to be honest with yourselves. What I would have liked to hear you say is that he wasn't the greatest in the series from a tactical standpoint instead of these cliched platitudes. Being honest with yourselves is where it all starts mate.

  • POSTED BY Strebori on | January 8, 2014, 14:16 GMT

    Mmm. It's everything you'd expect him to say. Honest to a point, and largely unarguable. But statements like "They had individual plans for every batsman - clever fields, clever lines of attack - and they executed those plans brilliantly. They planned better than us and they executed the plans they had better than us" worry me.

    A feature of England in both 2005, and 2010-11, was that they had plans and executed them well. Take Hoggard to Hayden, Flintoff to Gilchrist in 2005. Or the way the test bowlers were taken to Brisbane early in 2010. This time, we had the frank admission that England had no idea how to bowl at Haddin - despite the enormous wealth of resources at their disposal (behind the scenes, as well as theoretically on the field).

    Why was this the case? What happened to England's planners? Were the players simply too arrogant to adhere to them?

  • POSTED BY Iddo555 on | January 8, 2014, 17:08 GMT

    Bell needs to get in Cook's ear and give him some advice. He's a top player and seems a nice guy, hoping Bell can get back to scoring big runs and winning in the English summer

  • POSTED BY winstonfg on | January 8, 2014, 20:29 GMT

    Well said Ian. Much as it pains me, as a cricket lover and England fan, to have lived through the past 2 months, I can't help feeling we were due. And I doubt whether many batsmen in the world would have fared much better against a rejuvenated Johnson on home turf doing his best to emulate Jeff Thomson and Peter Pan at the same time. I honestly haven't seen hostility like that since Allan Donald was in his prime - remember Trent Bridge? - and I wonder how many 'Atherton's are around these days that do.

    That said, we've been through it before and came back to play the best series we've ever had in Oz. With all the best will in the world, a 3-month tour for English players 'down under' is NOT the same as the Ozzers, many of whom spent their 'winters' in our county game, coming to us.

    It's done. Let's put it behind us and rebuild - and maybe take a leaf out of Darren Lehmann's book: This is a game guys; ENJOY IT, and forget the naval gazers.

    Best of luck to all.