Cricket: the Australian way, edited by Jack Pollard, provided my earliest memories of my love affair with the game, early in the 1970s, when I was barely five. My father bought me this book to encourage me to read. Successful strategy. The Australian way was the only way I knew in my formative years.
Ashes 2015. Despite, in spite of, and perhaps even because of, the Australian way, Australia stumbled in Cardiff but it will not stop them from playing that way - aggressively and with intent. They may come unstuck occasionally playing in this vein, but it has ever been thus - I can't see this current Australian team deviating too far from the way.
England have just found the way. The only way to beat Australia, outside the subcontinent, is to play them at their own game. The Australian way. With a hint of local nous. Come at them hard, keep swinging when the chips are down (cue Joe Root's counterpunching first-day century) and don't allow this Australian team to get a roll on. If England stick to the Australian way, the series promises to be a rollicking affair. More importantly, England may just win playing this way.
Shane Watson seems to have lost his way. Depending on the selectors' patience, it may be a one-way ticket out of a team that he has had more difficulty being dropped from than being picked in. Barring injury to Mitch Marsh - a distinct possibility, given Marsh's track record - Watson may find it a lot harder to win his spot back.
Mildly unlucky in Cardiff to receive two borderline lbw decisions, he can nonetheless count himself lucky that he played as long as he did. In a very un-Australian way, he was given every chance to justify his selection over the years. They kept picking him, hoping that he would eventually get a score to justify the gamble. Good-ish allrounders eventually come good. Watson made a habit of redeeming himself just before the axe fell. It might soon be time for the likes of Marsh, Moises Henriques and James Faulkner to be given the extended tenure that Watson enjoyed. The Australian way has always been to give young talent clear air and time. This is not the time to deviate from that.
Brad Haddin's way has always been to attack - sometimes unprovoked and often when under pressure. One dropped catch is no hanging offence but his batting is starting to look increasingly desperate. In the first innings, James Anderson made Haddin look silly at times with the second new ball. One suspects that he will be given at least one more opportunity to save his bacon. Loyalty to faithful servants is fundamental to the Australian way.
Mitchell Starc might run out of time to find his way back from the physio's room to the Long Room at Lord's. One can only presume that his ankle injury was sustained in combat. It would certainly not be the Australian way to carry an injury into the Test, but his swing is venomous enough to tempt the selectors to gamble, especially with Mitchell Johnson showing early signs of losing his mojo. Both fast bowlers should only be written out of the script with caution - it is not inconceivable that either could still run through England at least once on tour.
Adam Voges must be hoping that his way into the team will reflect the same values that kept him out of the side for so long. With exceptions, especially harking back to when Pollard edited the aforementioned tome, it has always been the Australian way to make young batsmen score heavily in Shield cricket before handing them a baggy green. Except that Voges is no longer young. But surely he deserves more than a few chances. His record in England, his maturity and the strength of his character may weigh in his favour. To jettison him if he fails at Lord's would be harsh. But desperation, if Australia fall 2-0 behind, may call for desperate measures (cue Shaun Marsh politely looking the other way).
Michael Clarke only knows one way. He makes few excuses. Clarke's media performances are forthright to the point of brutality: Not good enough. Not patient enough. Not enough runs from the captain. Outplayed. Still confident. Must not underestimate England, especially now that they have found a new way. Can't wait for Lord's.
The Cardiff pitch played the same way that it always has. A cricket writer for the Australian described it as "sad". Nathan Lyon, after day three, was bullish about Australia' prospects of chasing 400-plus, citing the good batting conditions.
The game averaged over four runs per over, England scoring marginally quicker than Australia. Contrast that with the first Test at the Gabba in 2013, where the scoring rate was 3.1. The losing team in Brisbane averaged 15.75 per wicket, whereas in Cardiff it was 27.50. Proportionately, the wickets were evenly shared by quicks and spinners alike in Cardiff. Sad? Unlike the admirable Clarke, it appears that some journalists flew in to Heathrow looking for excuses, trying to weave a sinister narrative to sell to punters back home who might have slept through the live telecast.
Australian cricket fans are no mugs. They know this team is good enough to win from here. They may respect England a bit more after Cardiff but they will keep the faith in a squad that has the pedigree and the experience to turn things around at Lord's. Maintain aggression, better shot selection, tighter lines, take your catches, and find a bit of luck. The Ashes are not surrendered yet, not by a long shot. And if the unthinkable happens, no excuses. That will always be the Australian way.