Grand final atmosphere

THIS might sound a touch strange but the build up to this fifth and final test match has had a some what familiar feel with nearly all of this Australian team having played and competed in some pretty important 'Grand Final' style matches before.

Whether it has been a World Cup final (Australia won the last two), series deciding final tests in India (2004), numerous ODI finals or even domestic Pura Cup finals everyone has lived through the pressures associated with the build up to a deciding match.

That being the case there does seem to be a level headed but highly determined atmosphere around the team through the week.

And while the arrival of nervousness at some stage is a certainty for everyone, its appearance is unlikely due simply to the previous experiences of preparing and competing in finals.

I have also found it interesting how quickly people have written off this Australian team.

The saying 'The bigger they are, the harder they fall' sums up an expectation certainly of every Englishman but there are a few others who would like to see an England win for the good of the game.

Just last season there were the calls for changes to the Test cricket essentially because Australia were becoming too dominate.

It has been obvious to all the scale of interest and attention that this Ashes series has generated both here in the UK and at home.

Two drama-filled narrowly lost tests have provided many people with undiscovered emotions for the game of cricket and as a result the by-products of opinion and high level scrutiny are created.

Everyone is all of a sudden an expert with many an opinion to share.

In the work place, at footy, even around the dinner table everyone is discussing the pitch, weather, players form and their personnel changes for crucial the last test.

It is the same in the UK with complete strangers regularly coming up to us in the hotel, restaurants and even the street and thinking that we would be interested in their opinions.

I had a guy come to me at the hotel bar from nowhere and interrupt me and rudely say 'Three-one'.

To which I more politely asked 'What are you talking about?''

'We will win the Ashes three-one' he claimed in the confident way you would tell your close mate.

'That's fine,' I replied 'but I want to know why you thought that by saying that I wouldn't think, you are an absolute idiot?'

He tune changed quickly and tried to patch it up by telling me he played cricket too and would I like a beer.

It is quite easy to point out the mistakes of the losing team with the winning team oblivious to criticism even if they commit the same crime.

As one of the fast bowlers who were responsible for the unacceptable number of no balls during the last test I have been surprised at the amount of attention the no-balls received considering England went unnoticed in also bowling 30 no-balls for the game.

You can argue that they didn't take a wicket on one of those but my point is that this level criticism is a new situation for this Australian team because all the errors and mistakes are seemingly forgotten when you win.

While there has been an acknowledgement of the way England have being playing there has been a disappointment that we haven't shown what we are capable.

Believe me that we are our harshest critics and have had numerous discussions with coaches, selectors and amongst ourselves regarding very aspect to our game that will enable to improve.

But the fact is that experienced players known their games and the importance of that experience should never be discounted or ignored come a final.

n Written exclusively for Australian Provincial Newspapers by Australian fast bowler Michael Kasprowicz.

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