A Chill Wind

There's something supremely enjoyable and evocative about listening to Test Match Special as you walk through your home town in a snowstorm, with the pale light of a freezing December morning slowly making itself felt and the cold stinging your face like a sharp catch stings the hands. Christopher Martin-Jenkins, sheltering from the Perth heat, dutifully said something about welcoming listeners waking up on 'a frosty morning in England', but round my way it was a bit more severe than that.

Things were similar in another part of the WACA. A few hours before, a chill went through an England dressing room which has barely missed a beat since Brisbane, as Mitchell Johnson finally remembered what he was supposed to be good at. Six rapid victims later and match and series had taken on a different hue. A few of us - a bit like it used to be with snow itself in the days when English winter after English winter would go by without a hint of the stuff - had forgotten in three weeks that Australians could actually play cricket.

The characteristically fluent 62 which Johnson made on the first day was vital. An interview with him in the last Wisden Cricketer revealed him to be sensitive about his failures in England in 2009 and the type of player whose confidence needs regular regeneration. While the nets with Troy Cooley will have assisted with the mechanics of his technique, the reminder of his capabilities and the justification of his place which his runs gave him will have helped him to conquer his anxieties and bowl as he did.

England will need a supreme effort tomorrow to haul themselves back into the game, but this is not to say that all the Australians have left their demons behind. While his team suddenly look stronger on the back of a good day, the future for Ponting still looks clouded with an uncertainty which only a series victory and major runs will dispel.

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