The Ashes are back, the great cricket rivalry between England and Australia recommences in earnest this week in Brisbane, Australia. It only seems like earlier this year that the two teams were battling for supremacy . . . . . wait a minute . . . . it was earlier this year! The current year presents an anomaly regarding the contest between the two nations. To avoid a clash between the Ashes and the Cricket world cup in Australia in 2015 the latest round of the contest in Australia has been moved forward by 12 months.
This time round the team have sought to replicate this approach and have played a number of practice games in the build-up to the first test. Across these warm-up fixtures England have used a range of players to give the whole squad the opportunity to prepare effectively for the contest. This has enabled the team, and the batters in particular, to approach the first test with confidence. While there are many sources of confidence, in cricket easily the most dominant is ‘form’. Just being dependent on form is not conducive to the most robust confidence, but in cricket it has the biggest impact. That is why it is so important to give the players, and the batters in particular, the opportunity to get the feel for the conditions and to build confidence. This has worked particularly well for the England team as all of the probable starting top six batsman have scored runs in these warm-up matches. So Cook, Carberry, Trott, Peterson, Bell and Root will all feel they are in good form, which all bodes well for the opening test this week (if you are an England fan). Of course you could argue that the bowlers they have been facing in these games are got in the same class as the Australian team’s bowlers, but in a sense this doesn’t matter. Yes, in an ideal world the England batters would have faced the best and that is why they are confident, but the funny thing about confidence is its impact. Just by being confident you are more likely to be successful. Being too confident (over-confident) is a problem, but having confidence in your ability makes you more likely to be successful. Confidence makes you more optimistic about the outcomes, and this optimism is very much a good thing. So well done to England for preparing in a way to give the players confidence in executing their skills. All bodes well for the first test . . . . . . . let’s see if I am still saying the say thing in a weeks time!