Aussies enlist Ashes stars to recreate '13-14
Pat Cummins reveals Test side have reviewed footage of 2013-14 whitewash in preparation for upcoming Magellan Ashes
20 November 2017, 06:13 PM AEST
Australia have enlisted some of the architects of the Ashes whitewash dealt to England when they last visited four years ago to recapture that same spirit of torment and occasional terror when the battle resumes at the Gabba on Thursday.
Steve Smith's squad assembled in Brisbane last weekend to hone their strategic blueprint and physical preparations for the first Magellan Ashes Test, and they have gleaned insights from veterans of the 2013-14 campaign who now hold key coaching roles, Brad Haddin and Ryan Harris.
Among the messages related by Haddin (Australia's best-performed batter four years ago who is now the Bupa Support Team fielding coach) and Harris (part of the pace attack that humbled England, now working as a high performance coach in Brisbane) was the feeling of unity within the victors' group.
And the intimidation that aura of invincibility helped to create over Alastair Cook's touring team, who ultimately surrendered the urn 5-0.
It's a fear that was initially generated by bowling spearhead Mitchell Johnson in the opening Test at the Gabba, and which quickly percolated through the England line-up, that the 2017-18 iteration of Australia's bowling attack – Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins – are aiming to emulate.
In addition to the insights of Test incumbents Smith, David Warner and Nathan Lyon who were also part of that most recent Ashes series in Australia, the wisdom passed on by Haddin and Harris has made an impression on the class of 2017-18.
Especially fast bowlers Starc and Hazlewood, whose only previous Ashes experience is the failed 2015 tour to the UK, and Cummins who has yet to play a Test against England or one on home turf in Australia.
"Just talking about the environment they created that series, the way they played the game, trying to replicate that somehow with our squad," Cummins told reporters in Brisbane today when asked about the themes that Haddin, Harris and others explored in the weekend's meetings.
"We are lucky to have Warner, Lyon and Smithy there, but also Brad Haddin and Ryan Harris have been around a little bit and showing the impact that they had (in 2013-14) that transcended the cricket field.
"It put fear in them (England's batters) - when they were sitting around waiting to bat, in between games they were thinking about him (Johnson), how they were going to face him."
Cummins cited the examples of current England bowlers Stuart Broad and James Anderson – both members of that previous touring team – as examples of the stranglehold that Johnson and his teammates came to exert.
He said footage that showed both tailenders shying away, sometimes even before Johnson had released the ball, remained vivid in his memory and exemplified the sort of impact he and his fellow quicks were looking to have, starting at the Gabba this week.
"They (Anderson and Broad) looked like they didn't want to be out there, they didn't want to bat," Cummins said.
"Hopefully we can create that kind of anxiety in them, but seeing his (Johnson's) highlights up here at the Gabba, it was pretty awesome.
"I think the most impressive thing about that series was it was sustained over five Tests.
"It was pretty much from the Gabba onwards - they (England) were thinking about it from the next game to the next game to the next game.
"Hopefully in this first game, we can use it to put some things in their heads."
Lyon aside, there are undoubted similarities in the attack that Australia is expected to take into the first Test starting Thursday and the one that paved the way for the demolition of England when they last visited for an Ashes summer.
The destructive left-arm quick role filled by Johnson can be reprised by Starc, the swing and seam movement that Harris so often found is the forte of Cummins (with extra pace thrown in) and Hazlewood is the steady but always potent threat that Peter Siddle proved in 2013-14.
And while Johnson was unleashed in short, sharp spells of 3-4 overs by then captain Michael Clarke and used his ferocious bouncer to unsettle top and lower-order batters alike, Australia's current pace battery claims they have an even wider array of plans at their disposal.
Hazlewood noted it was not only the short-pitched deliveries that England's tailenders need to fear.
As Starc showed when he claimed hat-tricks in both innings of New South Wales' recent JLT Sheffield Shield win over Western Australia, he is just as dangerous when aiming at the base of the stumps.
"I think we'll see a bit of both this summer - at the toes and at the head," Hazlewood said today.
"I faced him (Starc) the other day, which was fun.
"They're definitely coming out fast.
"I think the guys who bowl really fast, it's obviously a little bit easier to use in three or four over spells as Johnno (Johnson) was.
"You can hold your pace through those three or four overs if you bowl 150 (km/h) plus, and I think in certain times they'll get used like that.
"But they're both really fit guys.
"Patty (Cummins) we've seen get through a couple of sub-continent Tests in the heat and bowl long spells as well.
"I think that if the situation dictates that they might go in short spells. but they're capable of bowling whatever the captain needs."
Lyon, who also made a statement in the opening Test of the 2013-14 series with a couple of crucial middle-order wickets in England's first innings, claimed there is a familiar feeling of unity and purpose within the group that has assembled four years later.
And that was another element that was highlighted by Haddin and Harris and others when the current squad – including uncapped opener Cameron Bancroft and recalled keeper Tim Paine – convened over the weekend.
"We just spoke about our experiences," said Lyon, who added his voice as one who knows what it takes to reclaim the Ashes.
"There's a lot of new guys.
"I've been talking about it to a couple of guys saying an Ashes home series is different to any other series you've played, so it's exciting.
"There's adrenalin, there's a lot of hype, there's a lot of media talk, there's a lot of different pressures.
"We know what we have to do.
"We know the feeling we need to create in the inner sanctum.
"I feel like that feeling if it's not there already, it's getting there quite quickly.
"If we can relive that year, that series a couple of years ago when we won five-nil, it'll be one hell of a party at the end of it."
2017-18 International Fixtures:
Magellan Ashes Series
First Test Gabba, November 23-27. Buy tickets
Second Test Adelaide Oval, December 2-6 (Day-Night). Buy tickets
Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Buy tickets
Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Buy tickets
Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Buy tickets
Gillette ODI Series v England
First ODI MCG, January 14. Buy tickets
Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Buy tickets
Third ODI SCG, January 21. Buy tickets
Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Buy tickets
Fifth ODI Perth TBC, January 28. Join the ACF
Prime Minister's XI
PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Buy tickets
Gillette T20 INTL Series
First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Buy tickets
Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Buy tickets
Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Buy tickets
Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 13
Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16
Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18
Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21