To be honest, I thought Australia had had the last laugh after Steven Finn’s winter wickets so early on. Come Australia’s tour, I thought they’d give Finn a lifeline because they felt he was over-used during the last Ashes but they didn’t seem convinced. Finn found it hard to keep fit in the last year so, a quiet winter in county cricket and England decided he was back on form. It was a low-risk strategy, anyway, and now he’s been hit for 142 runs in the first innings.
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Aaron Finch is a good cricketer but this performance is hardly outstanding either, given England’s hunch that he was only going to get better. It’s the start of a tough season for him and the risk was that he’d go away and wind up under-performing. I think he’s got plenty of quality in him, but early on Sunday there wasn’t a great deal going on for him.
I think if you’re an England player it’s always a bit scary to play a top player in the first innings and they’ve been killing players that get the start but are only average. You’re expected to go flat out but they’ve found a good amount of success in not giving away early wickets. The tricky thing for England is that they probably feel they’re at a stage where you want to see batsmen play in order to find their feet. There’s a lot of pressure in this format for each batsman and it helps if you get past them early.
Keaton Jennings looks like a guy who’s not really sure how to handle the pressure. He went too long without a run last summer and he’s been brought here for good things – to be a good run-scorer. You can look at some teams and see they’ve a nice balanced batting line-up, but these guys probably haven’t got the consistency to get us to the home Ashes in England.
I’ve no issue with what Peter Siddle has done in the past, so I won’t comment on that at the moment. I just think he hasn’t really been consistent enough but he doesn’t look affected by the pressure. He always wears his heart on his sleeve and comes back even stronger. He’s never complained when you’ve played alongside him and he never made excuses. He takes the pressure and how you play in the nets very seriously. You’re always on your game.
We’ve already got a few words of comfort for England, mostly to remind them they’re playing a very good team. Some people might find that cringeworthy but there’s something they can do that gives a real sense of pride, the way they react to a low score. Sometimes, when you bowl, you just don’t know what to do. It’s more of a mental game these days and we all know how mental it is for England.
I’ve been lucky, and been lucky for that matter, to win an Ashes series in England. We’ve made a habit of going and winning the first Test in Brisbane but we’ve also lost there.
Last year we didn’t put our foot down after a tough period in the series. The one before that was a bit more difficult. The recent majority of our three losses has been to pace bowling – particularly us, against Australia. But we’ve got some really tough opponents in India. The first one will be key but, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who wins. We just need to set up a reasonable lead in the series. I’m very confident we can do that.