An English team with Aussie Confidence!

This Australian side will need to improve out of sight to get back the Ashes and at the moment that is a dream rather than a reality, writes Ted Corbett.

In the history of Ashes matches there have been few victories as devastating as England’s against Australia this summer. Alastair Cook’s side have been superior in all departments — save for the wicket-keeping position where Brad Haddin out-performed Matt Prior — and they have exuded a confidence which used to be exclusive to the men from Down Under.

This series was seen as a prime example of Test cricket at a time when the concentration is on 50-over and T20. England still sing the praises of Tests, Australia would do anything legal to regain the Ashes; from the start it was clear England, the holders, were the favourites.

Their batting, led by three centuries from Ian Bell, transformed from an uncertain worrier to a fluent stroke-maker capable of judging each innings by the needs of his side, has been less than perfect but it has piled on runs in circumstances when Australia struggled.

Their bowling, led by James Anderson and Graeme Swann — we may see them as the equivalent of Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne in the Aussie glory days — has not just relied on those two. In Tim Bresnan and Stuart Broad they have found the perfect back-up.

Bresnan, a burly Yorkshire bowler and thinker, has had the measure of Shane Watson to such an extent that all-rounder Watson has had no influence on the series while Bresnan was performing. Watson did not come into his own with a century until Bresnan missed the final Test with a back injury.

Broad has been erratic but, as he showed in the fourth Test at Chester-le-Street, he can be a match-winner and as he proved when he stood his ground at Old Trafford, knowing he was out, he is as tough as any Aussie gold miner. Cook still has his doubters but he has a back-up group beyond compare and all from his home county of Essex.

Andy Flower has his hands on the reins as chief coach. He is quiet, he is demonstrably serious and his cricket experience is second only to Graham Gooch, another silent, serious man.

Between them they have done it all, seen it all and have the trophies and the scars to prove their experience. Flower is still the greatest Zimbabwe batsman-keeper-captain of all time and if that seems nothing to boast about most people will acknowledge that if he had played for any other country he would be remembered with even greater esteem.

Gooch led Essex and England and is the undoubted fountain of all cricket information. In theory he is the batting coach, responsible for the improvements in Cook’s batting and the technical changes in almost every batsman in the top six. He also knows the game as most people know their own front door and Cook — and Flower too I suspect — learnt at his elbow.

From this tight-knit command unit, England have blossomed in confidence, learnt to argue when their case seemed hopeless and learnt to fight hard.

The evidence for their fighting quality is best seen in short but effective innings by Bresnan, Broad and Swann who have turned inadequate scores into winning margins in a way the Aussies have found impossible.

From the tight first Test, when Australia showed their typical spirit, to the huge win at Lord’s, to the lucky escape in the rain at Old Trafford and the shattering victory in Durham, England have been better, more fortunate, more resolute and a greater team.

Australia were the outsiders when they landed in England three months ago but they then lost their coach Mickey Arthur, sacked for events in India that seemed incomprehensible to every outsider, but replaced by the deceptively affable Darren Lehmann who has done his best to rebuild the morale of a team in the depths of despondency.

He was immediately faced with the consequences of a meeting in a night club between England’s youthful Joe Root — 22, a Bambi among the tough old stags like Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott, Bell and Prior — and David Warner, who landed a blow on Root’s jaw.

Warner was left out of the first two Tests but whether he would have had a great influence on the series if he had played throughout is in doubt.

Root, yes Root. He too has his doubters among those media men carried away by the romance of Nick Compton, grandson of Denis, the post-war poster boy and daring run-scorer with locks shining from his much-advertised hair cream and his reputation topped by 17 centuries in 1947.

Root is cut from a different cloth; more Michael Vaughan or Len Hutton, more classical than celebrity and, with his eager, choir boy looks and youthful chatter, perhaps out of place in a Test side. Yet few doubt his ability although how he will survive in the brutal atmosphere Down Under remains to be discovered.

This new England will be tested next winter. Can Anderson, now second only to Ian Botham in the list of leading English wicket-takers, prove himself yet again? He looked tired by the end of the fourth Test. Will Bresnan be fit? Can Broad survive the examination by Australian crowds? Lehmann called for it and was promptly fined by ICC.

Can Cook, Trott, Pietersen and Prior find runs, can Swann repeat his success with the simplest method? In an era when the doosra is thought to be essential for the off-spinner he bowls an off-break that spins like a top, a straight ball, an arm ball and, er, well nothing much else

England will probably take crackerjack ’keeper Jonny Bairstow Down Under in case Prior goes badly off course, Chris Tremlett, the giant fast bowler hoping he will steam in as he did two years ago and maybe Monty Panesar, yet another who found trouble in the early hours in a night club, as back-up spinner.

They are not yet as strong as the Australia of Hayden, Langer, Ponting, Hussey, Healy, Warne and McGrath — only the 1980s West Indians can claim that — but they seem to have the measure of the lacklustre 2013 Australians.

This Australian side will need to improve out of sight to get back the Ashes and at the moment that is a dream rather than a reality.