On the eve of the first ODI against England on this VB Tour of the British Isles, we are at the ‘home’ of cricket and I feel this is the best prepared I have ever seen a team.
The mood and the vibe within the team is extremely optimistic and positive. The reason I say this is because the boys have ‘trained the house down’ – their intensity and attention to detail has been very impressive.
The ability of this group to execute in training has been a joy to behold. This counts for nothing though and the proof will be on display from Friday morning in London. We comprehensively outplayed Leicestershire and Essex – and so we should – but it was how clinical and ruthless we were that impressed me, my coaching staff and those fans who came to watch.
A solid preparation
All our batsmen have had a solid hit-out and we have settled on an attack that we think will give us good variation for the first ODI. Most impressive for me has been the batting of Clarke, David Hussey, Wade and Warner, while Watson and Smith have had very good time in the middle.
We are in the rather fortunate position of having six front-line bowlers out here who are all in a very good space – we could rotate our attack and not weaken it at all. The best thing about this attack is that it offers something different and variation is a very good tool in selecting the best to perform on the day.
It is so important to start well as this puts the opposition on the back foot and allows one to play with so much more freedom. Hopefully this is in us and we will leave our London base on Monday morning 2-0 up in the series.
It was very disappointing for all of us that the ODI against Ireland in Belfast was rained out. Ireland have been on the up under the leadership of Phil Simmons and William Porterfield, so it was sad not to get a full game in against them. Irish cricket is on the march and they are an ambitious organization. They went to so much trouble to stage the game, it was very well organised, a sell out and such a pity we only got 10 overs of play.
Contracts an incentive
It has also been an interesting time in terms of players contracts. CA has only given out 17 contacts and there is provision within those contracts to reward playing and winning for Australia – which is a good thing. It send a very clear message to the players that there are spots available and if any player performs and has a run in the team, he has the ability to achieve an upgrade to a CA contract.
We have a number of bowlers on the list, demonstrating our bowling stocks are in good shape. This will allow us to manage workloads and plan extensively for rest, recovery and rehabilitation, where required. There are less batsmen on this list but this sends a message that there are positions and opportunities up for grabs and it is up to the batsman to make a batting spot his own and reap the rewards. The spin bowling department and wicket-keeping area is well catered for. Those players who missed out on contracts realise if they take opportunities when presented with them, they will be rewarded.
Hopefully we start well on this tour and by the time you read my next blog we are on the way to a series win against England. The English have won six ODI series in a row at home and we realise that in their home conditions they are a very tough team to beat but we are here to make a statement.