Ahead of an Ashes summer, the chance to square off against old foes England is a delicious opportunity for Michael Clarke, whose name is already pencilled in as the next full captain of Australia. At the moment the twinkle-toed New South Welshman is only at the helm of the T20 team, but it won’t be long before Ricky Ponting gives way, and then there will be plenty of time for Clarke to deal with the Ashes.
“As an Australian you relish any chance to play England and hopefully beat them,” Clarke said after the semifinal win. However, he wasn’t getting too carried away. “You can’t compare this to the Ashes. There are about eight guys in this team who probably won’t be in the Test team. However, it does set things up nicely.”
Mike Hussey, who was player of the game for his fantastic finisher’s innings, however, compared the post-win high to what he had experienced when he hit the winning runs in the Adelaide Ashes Test of 2006. “Initially I thought the best feeling I would have as a cricketer was when I hit the wining runs in that Adelaide Test,” said Hussey. “This is right up there. It’s the best feeling to have hit the winning runs, particularly in a peak game like semifinal.”
Paul Collingwood, the England captain, believes his team is coming up against Australia at just the right time in a big final. “Australia are a very powerful side and have a lot of pace in their attack. It’s going to be a head-to-head, but we’re happy to be in the final,” he said. “But it doesn’t stop here, we haven’t won anything yet, and that’s what I’ve got to keep drilling into the boys: don’t get too carried away.”
Getting carried away is a danger, but the real worry is whether England can avoid being blown away by Australia on the bouncy wicket.