Cricket Australia Items/Blogs/justin-langer/2013/8/7/when-enough-is-enough

Justin Langer

When enough is enough

07 August 2013 41

On 12 September 2005, Michael Vaughan stood on the podium in the middle of The Oval holding aloft a replica urn. It proved to be the catalyst for one of the greatest turnarounds in Ashes history.

That afternoon, Vaughan and his band of merry men danced, laughed and celebrated the return of the Ashes to their shores. 

Blue, red and white streamers and confetti filled the afternoon sky, England players wore their victor’s medallions with pride and champagne was sprayed from one end of the country to the other. 

Anyone English celebrated gleefully and the Barmy Army sang and sang and sang.

On the other side of the fence stood 15 Australian cricketers and their support staff, and of course, every other Australian supporter who was bleeding from the shame of losing a Test series to our English counterparts.

Losing is never easy. 

Losing in England is equivalent to having one of the lead roles in a horror movie. 

Obviously nobody dies but the barrage of public and media criticism and ridicule is no fun.

I don't envy the Australian squad in England at the moment.  Not for one second.

That said, I do envy the challenge they have ahead. 

No true blooded Australian cricketer wouldn't.

England's celebrations at the end of the Test were mild compared to days gone by, but they should be enough for this group to shake themselves off, flex the muscles in their jaws, focus their vision and pull together to turn this contest around.

From Trent Bridge and Old Trafford they should know they have what it takes to wear England down. 

Lord's was a massive kick up the backside; a wake-up call, but Tests one and three have to be a confidence booster. 

Before a ball was bowled in this series I felt the two teams were evenly matched. 

Despite the underdog tag, Australia isn’t far off this current England team. 

Apart from the experience and skill of Graeme Swann, most of the remaining spots are on par. 

This has been proven throughout the series.

The loss in the first Test was close, and if not for the rain last night, this Ashes series could still be alive. 

Dreaming aside, the scoreline reads 2-0 with two to play. 

England has retained the Ashes and on the surface Australia is licking its wounds after another lost Ashes campaign.

On September 14, 2005 when another Australian touring team boarded a plane bound for home, licking similar wounds, something very interesting happened. 

Rather than sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves, solid discussion, even debate, ensued. 

The players got together and worked out where we had gone wrong, before vowing to right the wrongs the next time around. 

We knew we had become complacent in the lead-up to the series and we admitted that. 

We knew we had lost the pivotal moments and we admitted that. 

We knew we had made excuses that we had never made before and we admitted that. 

We knew we had been distracted by individual form, our own positions and the criticisms coming from outside of the group and we admitted that. 

This process was far from easy, but like an addict admitting they have a problem, awareness is usually the first step.

These questions and answers were unravelled amongst the players through honest and at times brutal self-assessment. 

Because it was between the players there was nowhere to hide. 

Everyone was hurting and still scarred by the scenes at The Oval, but it was in that dark time that things turned for the better.

From our first day back together the honest feedback and assessment crystalised into a determined focus and commitment to make amends the next time we went toe to toe with England. 

By the time they arrived on our shore they didn't know what was about to hit them. 

Right up until the moment Matty Hayden hit the winning run in Sydney on 7 January 2007 to secure a 5-0 whitewash, I know the majority of that team still remembered the pain and humiliation of losing 18 months before. 

Without suffering that defeat I’m not sure we would have been as ruthless and improved as we were the next time around.

The point of all this is that it is the playing group who have to look each other in the eyes and say enough is enough. 

When Australia lost the Ashes in 2011, the well-publicised Argus review was completed amongst much interest and fanfare. 

People lost their jobs, recommendations were made and structures were changed accordingly.

Three Ashes losses in a row should, to any observer, be enough, but it is going to take some strong leadership from the titled and untitled leaders of the group to stand tall and get into the nuts and bolts of what needs to change. 

The main difference between this team and that of 2005 was that the squad then consisted of a core of senior players who were able to recognise and then execute the necessary changes. 

That said, you only gain experience and earn respect by working through the toughest times, and this third consecutive loss provides an opportunity to see if this group is ready to dig deep, question honestly and then do whatever it takes to change the course of this current trend of Ashes results.

With seven Test matches to play over the next five months this is a mouth-watering opportunity for Australian cricket. 

England may have won the Ashes this time but let's hope our boys use that disappointment to say enough is enough. 

This will only happen if they ask the tough questions and then do something about it.  it’s not an easy task, but it’s a worthy one for the brave-hearted. 


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia.

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