It seems so long ago since we played in front of our own fans and in our own conditions, so it was a nice feeling to get to Brisbane for the first Vodafone Test of the Aussie summer and get right into another big home series.
Playing in your own country and in familiar conditions really gives all our players a massive boost. It does, however, bring other responsibilities with it. The media attention, scrutiny and focus is massive and the expectation on us to perform is justifiably high.
We have a very busy and tough 18 months coming up and that all starts with the current series against South Africa.
It really is a massive opportunity for us to get back to being the number one ranked Test nation in the world, but we know it’s no easy task.
The first Vodafone Test at the Gabba has really set the scene for this series. Apart from day one when I thought we were fairly tentative, I think we came away having scored more points than South Africa.
It was a real pity that the second day was rained out because as the Test unfolded we saw that if we had five days it would have been a cracking finish.
The pitch played a little slower than usual but I think it was still a very good wicket. Michael and I met with the curator, Kevin Mitchell Jnr, before the Test and asked for a good wicket – we want to play all our Tests this summer on wickets that offer pace and bounce but if you get through your first 20 balls as a batsman then it becomes good to bat on.
We are in favour of a pitch deteriorating as that brings our spinner into the game and if you don’t bat well in your first innings then you will suffer the consequences later in the match.
We bowled incredibly well on day three of the Test taking 7-198. Our lines and our lengths were much better and we were able to build enough pressure on their batsmen to force mistakes. We also had strong body language and showed good intent which we lacked a bit on day one.
The batting of Ed Cowan, Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey was at times sublime and to score at over four an over against that attack was an outstanding achievement. Again, our intent, running between wickets and positive mindset was really pleasing.
As a result of that good work, we were able to try and force a result and able to throw some punches in their second innings – we also opened up some contests that are going to be interesting to watch develop and unfold as the series progresses.
It was, I think, a showing that we can be proud of.
This however, counts for nothing as we head to Adelaide. We have to make sure our preparation is sound, our attention to detail is brilliant and that intent and body language we show in Brisbane are again good because South Africa will come back hard at us.
We lost a very valuable and popular staff member after the Brisbane Test, but thankfully he has gone on to bigger things and is not lost to Australian cricket.
I have really enjoyed working with Justin Langer for the past year – Justin’s work ethic, values, planning and passion are what marked the man.
I wish Justin all the best as head coach of Western Australia and the Scorchers and I know that my ex-state is in very good hands with him at the helm.
Stuart Law now joins us for the time being and he brings a wealth of experience and knowledge with him. I welcome ‘Lawry’ aboard and look forward to working with him.
It has certainly been an interesting feeling for me coaching against my former country, a team I was coach of for five years, but time moves on and now my quest along with Michael’s to make Australia the best team in the world is deep into progression.
This series is the opportunity for us to do just that. Roll on Adelaide!
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia