Focused Aussies determined not to squander early edge
Australia have a recent track record of letting good starts slip in Test series away from home, but Tim Paine and Justin Langer are determined to avoid a repeat in an Ashes series
Sam Ferris in Birmingham
6 August 2019, 05:01 PM AEST
The single-minded focus of Australia men's coach Justin Langer and captain Tim Paine will ensure Australia do not squander their Ashes series lead and repeat the same mistakes the Test side has made in recent history.
That's the pledge from Langer, who spoke on Monday evening after his charges drew first blood in the five-Test Ashes with a remarkable come-from-behind 251-run win at Edgbaston.
But the stirring win in Birmingham led by Steve Smith, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon will count for nothing if Australia become complacent and let England back into the series with a victory of their own at Lord's next week.
In the past two years, Australia's Test side has burst out of the blocks on away tours only to let slip their advantage and return home as losers.
In February 2017, Australia stunned world No.1 India with a 333-run win inside three days in Pune before the hosts regrouped to win two of the next three Tests to take out the series 2-1.
A year later, Mitch Starc's nine-wicket haul was the catalyst behind Australia's 118-run win over South Africa in Durban. A loss in Port Elizabeth immediately followed before the events of Cape Town rocked Australian cricket. A huge loss followed in Johannesburg to seal a 3-1 defeat.
And last October, under the leadership of Langer and Paine for the first time, Australia dug deep to draw the first Test against Pakistan in Dubai but failed to back it up, losing the second Test and the series in Abu Dhabi.
While those results have come in the past two-and-a-half years, Langer knows what it's like to jump the gun with an emphatic win only to surrender a high-profile series, such as the 2005 Ashes in England.
On that unforgettable tour 14 years ago, Australia won the first Test at Lord's and celebrated by singing the team song in the deserted home team dressing room.
That move came back to haunt Langer and his teammates as England rallied behind inspirational allrounder Andrew Flintoff to produce an upset in one of the greatest Ashes series ever.
It's why when asked how Australia will avoid the complacency of previous tours, Langer said it had already been addressed less than an hour after the win in Birmingham.
And that he and Paine will be making sure their troops do not slip up having fought so hard for the early Ashes ascendency.
"We're aware of those (series losses after leading) so the boys have already talked about it a bit," Langer said.
"We talk about our values … I say it very seriously. Humility is one thing, very important, professionalism, mateship – you'll see plenty of mateship in the change room right now which is half the reason we play the game.
"Keep being honest about where we're at, we've still only won one Test match.
"And we've got a captain who is that focused in there, and he's the best wicketkeeper in the world.
"You've just seen it. You've seen those catches today. He's the best wicketkeeper in the world.
"He's a brilliant leader, a great bloke but I thought tactically he was superb. He is so focused in this series so there is no way he is going to let it slip and I guarantee you, I'm not going to let it slip either."
Paine was short and to the point when summing up the win in Birmingham as Australia move to Worcester for a three-day game to prepare for the second Test at Lord's.
"There's still four Tests to go and we aren't here to win the first Test at Edgbaston – we're here to win the Ashes."
2019 Qantas Ashes Tour of England
Australia squad: Tim Paine (c), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner.
England squad: Joe Root (c), Moeen Ali, Jimmy Anderson, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes (vc), Olly Stone, Chris Woakes.
First Test: Australia beat England by 251 runs at Edgbaston
Tour match: Australians v Worcestershire, August 7-9
Second Test: August 14-18,Lord's
Third Test: August 22-26, Headingley
Tour match: Australians v Derbyshire, August 29-31
Fourth Test: September 4-8, Old Trafford
Fifth Test: September 12-16, The Oval