Martin Smith: Aussie bad losers are even worse when winning

Australia's Ryan Harris (centre) celebrates after England's Michael Carberry (not pictured) played onto his stumps during  first Ashes Test at The Gabba, Brisbane. Pic: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire.
Australia's Ryan Harris (centre) celebrates after England's Michael Carberry (not pictured) played onto his stumps during first Ashes Test at The Gabba, Brisbane. Pic: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire.
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Are we surprised? Are we just a little bit taken aback by the ‘scared eyes’ and ‘broken arms’ quotes and the wave of hysteria and triumphalism the Aussies are currently surfing?

We shouldn’t be. Australians, known all around the world as bad losers - as in they don’t like losing - are even worse winners.

What could be a more demoralising sight for us than a mob of shrieking, baggy-capped Australians in their factor-50 warpaint, English stumps still wheeling as Clarke and co celebrate yet another Pom collapse? Nothing in sport is quite so unnervingly embarrassing as realising that the other team wanted it so much more than you did.

That’s what Alastair Cook and his England team have seen these past few days and they have a hell of a job on to reverse that. That kind of destructive, free-fall defeat takes some getting over.

Humiliation to that degree can determine the balance of power for decades not just a series. Jonathan Trott’s withdrawal with stress-related illness will be seen as more evidence the Poms just can’t take it. But England have had something like this coming for a while.

In the last Ashes series there were three games where Australia could have snatched the initiative and England’s bowlers had to rescue us again.

A series in Australia with Darren Lehmann’s verbal assassination of Stuart Broad compounded by traditional Aussie hostility and desire for revenge against the old enemy was always going to be hard.

Cook and his team somehow have to rebuild confidence - and for some - start to rebuild technique.

We’ll see what they are made of now and whether our lingering collective doubts about England’s recent ‘best in the world’ tag are as justified. Australia, meanwhile, is in sporting heaven.

Nothing amuses and enthuses Aussies more than beating England, such a resounding victory in an Ashes opener is about as good as it gets - apart from a series win. That’s what will count in history terms.

Every team in every sport loses games. England need to have their inquest, move on and reassert good habits and a winning mentality. It won’t be easy.

After losing four out of five series since 2005 the Aussies are more fired up than they’ve been since Lillee and Thomson were in their ‘Ned Kelly’ pomp.

If ever there was a time for Cook and England to show class, belief and grit on the field. This is it.