I said in my last report that this would be a really tough stage to compete on. As the West Indies have found out, so too are we beginning to experience how hard a tour of Australia can be (on the cricket field that is). They have huge depth and no matter which Australian team you play against, be it the Country XI or the full national side, they play with a huge amount of national pride and skill and are very tough competitors. To compete, let alone win, on a tour of Australia you need to be on top of your game both mentally and physically, as the pressure created by the Aussies is unrelenting.
This is something that we as a team have spoken about, as after a few games here it does tend to stare you in the face. We realise how much we need to lift our respective games if we are to get into the finals. It is firmly on our agenda to accomplish this, but no one is under any illusion as to how hard it is going to be to get there.
I neglected to mention in my last report that the day we arrived in Brisbane, we were invited by the great Australian fast bowler Jeff Thomson for a cruise on his boat - Queenslander. We were delayed out of New Zealand so it took the form of a night cruise down the Brisbane River. Armed with with a few 4 X's and a view of the Brisbane Skyline at night it was a magnificent evening enjoyed by all.
After the West Indies game at Brisbane which was a very exciting game but not quite the result we were hoping for, we have had a week off in Sydney. In between practice and training the boys have been able to go around and see the sights as well as take the ferry across the harbour to the world famous Manley Beach. Bondi was also visited, but was far too crowded for my liking.
Before moving to Melbourne (where we are at the moment to play Australia tonight), we visited Don Bradman's hometown, Bowral to play the Country XI. The game's result was something best forgotten, but the Oval and the Bradman Museum will be something that I will long remember. Steeped in history and memorabilia, it was a great experience and something that I would urge any cricket enthusiast to go and see.
Melbourne is a happening place at the moment, with the Australian Open taking place. Incidently the Rod Laver arena is about 500m from the Melbourne Cricket Ground which is in turn about 500m from our hotel. So to say that we were surrounded by activity is an under-statement.
We play four games in the next week and like I have said, it is going to be tough. However, it is a cricketer's dream to play in a final at the M.C.G. in front of 80,000-plus people. A dream that we want to realise.