Never write off the Aussies. They’re never down for long.
When England lose this Test match, the score will be 1-1, but you can lose a match in different ways. You can affect opposition players to the extent that they’ll have a different outlook in the next Test and a different outlook will make people play differently.
Take England’s bowling. With only four bowlers and two getting carted, the wheels could have come off, rolled down the hill and exploded, the ash later being worked back into the earth by rain and worms. However, Chris Tremlett stood unavoidably tall and Australia’s batting still feels like it’s pretty much just Mike Hussey as a consequence. England think that. Australia think that too.
Now England’s batting? Well, most of the batsmen opted to wave slightly fatiguely in their second innings, which is never a good tactic. Previously remorseless, after two collapses in two innings, the batting’s now taken on a fairweather hue.
Is 1-1 always the same?
If the opposition’s win seemed to come with joyful ease while your team had to slog and slave to inch over the line, how will you feel if you fall behind in the next match? You’ll feel like you can only compete when you’re at your best and you’ll believe that a slight drop in standards will see you overwhelmed.
Conversely, if you closed in on your victory enduring only the friction of a luge track, you won’t get dispirited by big batting partnerships or the loss of a couple of wickets. You know you don’t need to be flawless, so success seems so much more attainable. This keeps you buoyant and buoyancy keeps you determined. Without determination, you’re basically relying on blind luck.
The way you lose a Test match matters a lot.