Final round of title fight
THE bell had sounded to begin the last round of what many had described as the greatest fight of all time.
There in one corner stood the excitingly talented younger opponent and in the other the aging champ who many had thought had come to the end of the lasting stranglehold on the world heavyweight title belt.
It was October 30, 1974 in Zaire and this was the Rumble in the Jungle.
The expectation from the media and other boxing experts was that new champion George Foreman would account for his slower, aging opponent Mohammed Ali.
Mohammed Ali used the now famous Rope a Dope game plan against George Foreman in that epic boxing match.
Ali's method of absorbing Foreman's body blows while leaning on and fighting from the ropes enabled him to save energy as Foreman continuously tried to end the fight with one big punch after another.
This unheard of game plan was the undoing of Foreman who after round after tiring round found he had expended too much energy allowing a fresher Ali to finish him off in the final rounds.
The Oval on September 8 finds another older champion team beginning the final round against an opposition that has thrown plenty of punches in the early rounds and has yet failed to put them on the canvas.
Australia claimed the first round with a devastating display delivering a succession of solid blows to the England batting line up.
The fight then changed dramatically with Australia finding itself on the ropes and constantly defending solid body and pride-reducing blows but refused to go down.
They had belief and deep down knew that they had the skill and experience of the big occasion that if they could make it to the last round they would be a chance.
While we never began this Ashes series with such plans we however have found ourselves in a similar position to Mohammed Ali.
England have appeared on top through most of the series.
They have seemingly thrown everything at Australia and have only managed two very close nail-destroying wins.
It is possible, however, they have swung too hard and used all their big punches too early.
This Ashes series has certainly had an unaccustomed feel for the Australian team.
Since that Lords Test we have found ourselves in a constant fight to get back in the game.
Over recent years this Australian team has found itself on the other side of this equation and it is amazing how a misfield, runout, dropped catch, a wicket from a no ball and even an incorrect umpiring decision has ultimately had little or no impact to the result of the match.
The importance of all these going your way are amplified when you are playing from behind and trying to claw back into the game.
In this situation the impact of just one incorrect decision can be crucial.
However, you certainly cannot rely on these things simply working out for you on the day and thereby base your chances on luck.
From within the Australian team there has always been a confidence, or what I like to term belief, in our game.
By belief I mean a belief in your own preparation and skills, a belief in your mate's preparation and skills and ultimately a belief that we can always win whatever the situation of the match.
England has played very well throughout this series and we have so far performed below what our team is capable of.
We must now launch off the ropes at our tiring opponent and, just like Mohammed Ali, unleash the final punches that will end this exceptionally memorable bout.
Prepared exclusively for Australian Provincial Newspapers by Australian fast bowler Michael Kasprowicz.