Lessons Learnt from the 3rd T20 Between Australia and England
It's over. It's finally, finally over.
One of the most gruelling, protracted, painstaking tours not only of recent times but of all times, is over.
13 matches have been played. 12 won by Australia. 1 by England. Jonathan Trott flew home with a psychological illness months ago, Graeme Swann retired and Andy Flower resigned. It was a tour that broke England, and forged a new Australia.
Click "Begin Slideshow" to find out what we learned from England's latest defeat.
Confidence Is Key
Quite suddenly, riding the crest of this summer's wave, Australian cricket looks in remarkable health. They may, of course, be brought back down to earth by South Africa later this month, but right now even their second-string T20 side is winning.
In Ben Cutting, James Muirhead and Nathan Coulter-Nile, a younger generation of players have emerged and succeeded when not long ago even those at the top could not do so. Confidence, it seems, is key.
There was a sense, even stronger than in previous matches on this tour, of inevitability about England's defeat.
Not for a moment did England winning feel like a realistic possibility. They are a broken team. In mind and in body. There were some who felt the limited-overs series, with new personnel, would bring a change of fortune, but it seems the despondency of the Test team has proven contagious. Heads dropped, spirits gave up, they fought on but only in the physical sense.
England are now going home. They've needed to go home for weeks.
Where Now for England?
England's World T20 plans are now in disarray. Not long ago they seemed to be bringing together the framework of a successful team. Now, after three harrowing matches, the landscape has changed.
Michael Lumb has been dropped. Kevin Pietersen may or may not return to the side. Jade Dernbach is broken. Both spinners have been dropped.
No one is certain what England's future looks like. No one is certain who the coach will be. None of these problems can be appropriately assessed in the heat of the moment. The dust must settle. Thoughts must be gathered.
But time is of the essence. England's World T20 preliminary squad of 30 will be narrowed down to 15 on Thursday. When James Whittaker announces the names things will be a lot clearer, but the serious work will then begin. The work of mending a brutalised team and trying to pull them together for the World T20 in Bangladesh.
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