The anticipation and suspense finally came to an end last week when that first ball was bowled in the Ashes. The hype did not let us down.
For the neutral observer this was a wonderful Test and every spectator at the ground was gripped to their seats for the five days.
We have no complaints with the result; this was Test match cricket at its best.
We also know and I am sure the Australian public knows, we have a good team but we need to take all our opportunities.
When this team plays at our best we will win.
Our boys fought hard and showed great courage and I think we can take some real positives out of our performances.
The emergence of Ashton Agar was certainly one. A lot of people will take credit for Ashton but the first goes to him and his family. He has taken every chance offered.
Ashton is a product of our pathway system.
Over the past 18 months he was an AIS scholar (2012), played for the Australian Under 19 team, moved to WA, made a first class debut, was a Kerry Packer Foundation and AIS scholar to Hampshire (UK), played with Australia A and bowled with Australia in a warm up game in India. A lot of experiences.
A lot of credit needs to be given to the States for the work they do with our young talent.
Our National Talent Manager Greg Chappell works very closely with all of our State Talent Managers to identify these players and foster their development through the system.
Away from the Ashes, the AIS scholars left for Sri Lanka on Sunday; unfortunately Kurtis Patterson has been unwell and is now not able to travel so we have decided to send Jordon Silk instead.
Silk impressed on the Australia A tour of England and we think he will benefit from the opportunity to play spin in sub-continental conditions.
Adam Zampa, Joel Logan and James Muirhead will also have the opportunity stay on in Sri Lanka after the camp until 13 August and play club cricket.
The Australian U19 team didn’t get the result we were after in the tri series in Darwin, losing in the final to India. The team will head to India in September to play in a quad-series against India, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
The COE has been as busy as ever with a revolving door of players using the facilities.
Australia A squad members have been there preparing for their tour of Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Ellyse Perry also spent some time in Brisbane last week and will also be there this week, linking up with Troy Cooley, Andrew Weller and Graeme Hick who will be assisting her ahead of the Women’s Ashes.
She’s progressing well in her rehabilitation from injury and the COE is the best place for her to get the preparation she needs before leaving for England with the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars in two weeks’ time.
Andrew Weller our Physical Performance Manager recently held the national Strength and Conditioning (S&C) workshop at the COE.
The two main things to report out of that conference are the national roll out of GPS tracking system to the national team and all States and the introduction of S&C module on the Athlete Management System which will enable storage and delivery of strength and conditioning programs across Australian cricket.
These two initiatives will improve S&C service delivery to all of Australian cricket and improve the flow of information across our major stakeholders.
This week we also confirmed the appointment of Tim Coyle as Assistant Coach to the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars as well as a fielding consultant at the COE.
Tim had huge success as coach of Tasmania across eight seasons, winning multiple Sheffield Shield and RYOBI Cup titles. He will be a great asset to both our men’s and women’s program.
The Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars head to the COE this weekend for a training camp ahead of their departure for the Women’s Ashes Series in England next month.
The squad will be joined at the COE by the Commonwealth Bank Shooting Stars for an intense weekend of skills training, strength and conditioning and match practice.
They will depart for the UK at the start of August and will also link up with the men’s side for T20 double headers.
The COE re-development continues to make good progress and the level four slab is now complete and the pool is going in.
Electrical, plumbing and mechanical work has commenced and the walls are starting to go up.
We are all in London now ready for the second Test at cricket’s spiritual home – Lords. If it is half as enthralling as the first then we are in for a great five days.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia