As Australia coach, Justin Langer is still yet to be part of that Test team victory song he covets so highly but he must have been sorely tempted to belt out a sneaky chorus in the wake of yesterday’s epic draw with Pakistan in Dubai.
While his captain, Tim Paine, counselled against celebrating the stalemate as if it was a win, in light of Australia’s seemingly hopeless position after the game’s third day Langer was so pleased with his team’s fighting resistance he declared it a notional victory.
Such was his pride in the final-day effort led by Usman Khawaja (141 in 524 minutes), Travis Head (72 in 197) and Paine (61 not out in 219), Langer claimed it would restore significant pride in the eyes of players and supporters left disillusioned by the recent ball-tampering scandal.
And even went as far as comparing the outcome - which ensures the Qantas Tour of the UAE’s winner will be decided at next week’s second Test in Abu Dhabi - to the famous 1999 encounter between the two nations in Hobart which is regarded as one of Australia’s greatest Test wins.
The correllation drawn more directly from the enduring impact yesterday’s performance might bring to an inexperienced group rather than a parallel between the respective end results.
“I actually talked about that Test match this morning (Thursday) to the boys,” Langer said of that match two decades ago when he and Adam Gilchrist led Australia’s successful fourth-innings pursuit of 369, a feat never before achieved on Australian turf.
“I remember that Test match because it was against Pakistan obviously, and there was personal involvement but … more importantly it was for the team.
“We felt if we could win from there, we could win from anywhere.
“For us to draw (in Dubai) from where we’ve been throughout this game, that’s going to be a huge confidence booster to help us build this team.
“Back then, we won 16 straight Test matches.
“Now I’m not saying this team is going to do that obviously, but what I am saying is it was a huge confidence booster back then and I’ve got no doubt for this young team and a very young captain that’s a huge confidence booster for them.
“Never underestimate how victories like that, even though this was a draw, what a significant event that can be for building a team.
“It feels like we’ve had a win, because it really was.”
From the time earlier this year that Langer took over the coaching role from Darren Lehmann, he has identified making Australia proud of its men’s cricket team as one of two primary values that underpins their character and performances.
The other is to oversee the development of fine citizens, as well as accomplished cricketers.
He said that regardless of whether his under-siege tailenders had been able to hang until stumps against the ever-threatening spin and reverse swing of Pakistan’s bowlers yesterday, the team had shown sufficient spirit in taking the Test deep into the final day to meet that charter.
The fact they were able to then hold on to force a draw, having been effectively bowled-out inside a session on day three to hand Pakistan an unassailable 280-run advantage, reflected the group’s preparedness to live its values.
“We said we’re really going to fight hard and try and make Australians proud of us again,” Langer said before the team made the one-hour highway trip along the shores of the Persian Gulf to Abu Dhabi, where the second Test begins on Tuesday.
“Besides that mad couple of hours (on day three) where we lost 10-60, I thought the boys fought and worked so hard throughout the game, it was a really great performance.
“We’ve said whether we win or lose, we’ve got to keep making Australians proud of how we go about our business.
“I’ve said it since day one, and I really mean it.
“I think our behaviour out on the field was outstanding throughout this game (and) the spirit between Australia and Pakistan was outstanding.
“Aussies love a battler, and Aussies love an underdog.
“We’ve got lots of fans back home, so hopefully we’ve put some smiles on their faces because that’s really important for Australian cricket right now.”
Qantas Tour of the UAE
Australia Test squad: Tim Paine (c), Ashton Agar, Brendan Doggett, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Michael Neser, Matthew Renshaw, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc
Pakistan Test squad: Sarfraz Ahmed (c), Azhar Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Haris Sohail, Usman Salahuddin, Yasir Shah, Shadab Khan, Bilal Asif, Mohammad Abbas, Hasan Ali, Wahab Riaz, Faheem Ashraf, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Hafeez
Oct 7-11: First Test, drawn
Oct 16-20: Second Test, Abu Dhabi