As the Ashes heat up with the first ball about to be delivered in less than 12 hours, there seems a certain level of optimism amongst the Australian public of how the Australian team will go.
Over a month ago majority of Australians and cricket lovers gave Australia no hope of winning the Ashes, with some even saying that they wouldn’t even win a Test match.
The team certainly had its challenges, with a poor performance on the field during Champions Trophy and the off-field antics increasing.
Cricket all of a sudden started to rival other male mainstream sports, such as AFL and NRL, with back page tabloids relating to discipline issues, something that Australian cricket has normally been immune to.
It took James Sutherland and more importantly Michael Clarke to come out openly and say enough is enough.
During the press conference the day after the suspension of four players in during the India tour, Clarke spoke about what a privilege it is to represent your country and as players we need to respect that honour and the Australian fans expect that of us.
This isn’t the first time that Clarke has reinforced the responsibility and honour that comes when you put on the baggy green.
Presumably the poor showing in the Champions Trophy, coupled with Warner’s late night incident, was the final trigger for Cricket Australia administrators, with them taking the bold and brave move to sack the then head coach Mickey Arthur’s and instate the former player and ACA president Darren Lehmann.
Lehmann, whose playing record speaks for itself on the field, has also shown he is a talented coach with him delivering immediate success as head coach with Queensland and Brisbane Heat.
His surprise instatement initially attracted negative press headlines, especially from the English media, with headlines along the lines of ‘Poms take the Mickey as cricket coach sacked’.
Initially the theme of conversation was that Australian cricket was the laughing stock of the global cricket community.
However, once the shock of the events subsided, I cannot recall seeing so much support for the appointment of an Australian coach, particularly from past players for Darren Lehman, affectionately known as ‘Boof’.
As the days passed, the Poms were starting to backtrack on the bold pronouncements of a whitewash and were seemingly running a little scared.
Those of you on Twitter might recall Michael Vaughn, who had been antagonising the Australian team supporters for weeks, tweeting “For the 1st time in months I am worried about Australia. If Darren Lehmann is coach he will get them right.”
A couple of weeks later, with the dust settling regarding the coaching appointment, the Australian team seem to be in a much better place.
They seem more relaxed, enjoying each others company and it is no surprise that they are playing well.
Yes, some of you will say they haven’t played an international team since Boof’s appointment, but there are still plenty of positives to take out of the recent matches.
Our batters were able to score runs and our bowlers were able to get some necessary overs under their belts.
I can say that when you play warm-up matches before a major match or series, it is sometimes very hard to get motivated as you are tired of training and want to just head out there and play the real thing.
Therefore the Australian boys’ performances were outstanding given what the team has gone through recently.
Now the real test lies ahead of them with the first Test match of the Ashes about to begin.
Yes they seem a much happier bunch, yes they have had some recent success, yes they all seem to be enjoying the new environment created by Boof.
But the real test is whether they can stay together when the scrutiny of the cricket world tune in for that first ball and consequently critique their every move for the next five days.
Having played in major tournaments like World Cups and our very own Ashes, momentum is spoken about a lot, but it does matter.
It is vital that the Aussie have a solid start to their first test because as a young impressionable team trying to forge ahead under tremendous amount of pressure it can be very easy to fall back to bad habits if things don’t go to plan.
Back here in Australia the talk amongst my friends and work colleagues is more positive about our chances over in England.
There are still some that say we won’t win, but at least it isn’t going to be a one-sided affair.
Cricket Australia and the media are doing a great job to remind everyone that anything is possible with a new digital video series launched yesterday called ‘The Rivalry That Unites Aus’ and the new campaign “Keep calm and return the Urn”
It almost makes us believe that we are going to win, but what it comes down to is not the bells and whistles off the field, but the individual battles that will occur in a few hours on the pitch at Trent Bridge.
I hope for the team and those that support Australia are able to start well on the first day and show that true Aussie fighting spirit that will be needed if Australia are to play well