March 6, 1836 near modern day Santonio, Texas. Near 200 brave Texans lay dead, slaughtered at the hands of a ruthless Mexican Army.
This was the infamous battle of the Alamo, where those brave men stood firm against impossible odds, for the good of their soon to be state.
January 7, 2011 in Sydney, New South Wales. Australian cricket lay crushed by the overwhelming force that was the English cricket.
Like the Texans at the Alamo, they provided some resistance, winning in Perth but ultimately losing three Tests at home by an innings.
It wasn’t just a loss, it was a slaughter.
Australia had lost recent series against England, in England. But to be crushed at home was another matter.
Like President General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the leader of the Mexican army who showed no mercy to Texan survivors, the English finished the job in Sydney.
Rather than having mercy and playing for a draw, the Australians were given no quarter and were belted by an innings, again.
Perhaps less famous than the Alamo, is the amazing revenge extracted at the Battle of San Jacinto, in modern day Harris County, Texas.
Less than two months after the massacre at the Alamo, led by the wily General Sam Houston, a new Texan force crushed the main portion of the Mexican army, which Houston knew would be forced to splinter to keep up with his strategic retreat.
Despite having less numbers, General Houston led a daring daytime attack. Having severed the only means of retreat for either side, General Houston knew the only options were death or victory.
He won a famous victory, in a battle lasting just 18 minutes. He went from being dubbed a craven by many for failing to take the fight to Mexican sooner, to a national hero.
Australia came back with vengeance against England at Gabba in the first Test against England. They didn’t just win, but recorded a resounding victory.
General Houston’s daytime attack, like Australia’s selection of Mitchell Johnson, was doubted by many but proved a masterstroke.
However was there more to the selection of Mitchell Johnson than meets the eye? Some good judges labeled it risky at best, but maybe the selectors had a secret weapon, that held the key to Johnson bowling as well as he did.
Craig McDermott is back working with the Australian side. The man who so famously inspired the Australian bowlers to crush in India in their most recent visit to Australia, may well have added the extra polish Johnson needed.
Everyone knew Johnson had the ability to take wickets, but he is notorious for also leaking runs. Or he goes from feast to famine, either bowling extremely well or extremely poorly.
Of course Johnson deserves most of the credit. It was him after all, that bowled well enough to become the most feared, if not best, fast bowler in world cricket. He may well have bowled just as well without McDermott.
What’s more, Johnson worked hard before McDermott returned to the fold, bowling well enough to warrant a recall and resisting the temptation to become a short form specialist.
I personally disagree with he notion Johnson just needs to bowl fast in Test cricket to be a success.
Yes, he will have a certain amount of success and take wickets, but if he combines this with the amount control he used at the Gabba he will be a far better player for it.
Johnson has previously bowled fast, yet been ineffective. Furthermore by consistently bowling near unplayable deliveries, even the best batsmen will struggle.
Shaun Tate and Steven Finn, though not in the class of Johnson, have proven respectively that simply bowling fast or taking wickets is enough at Test level.
Johnson of course has the ability to do so much more and Craig McDermott may just be the man to help him do it consistently.
Back to the battle of San Jacinto, and as daring and brave as Houston’s daytime attack was, it so effective for one key reason. The Mexicans were unprepared and some were actually taking their afternoon siesta.
Houston had some Mexicans in his ranks, so while it may have been a calculated risk or even dumb luck, he may well have known exactly what would happen.
Similarly, the Australians took what appeared to be a bold risk with Johnson, however with the knowledge of McDermott may be they were confident it likely to pay dividends.
Perhaps also like the Mexican army, who doubted Houston’s capabilities given their superior numbers, the English underestimated just how devastating Australia and Johnson can be.
The Battle of San Jacinto was a pivotal battle in the war between Texas and Mexico, but it didn’t win the war. In the aftermath, many Texans called for the execution of the cowardly Santa Anna, for his massacre at the Alamo and other atrocities he committed in the name of war.
Houston again rejected the popular notion, showing incredibly tenacity to deliver a much greater prize than one resounding victory.
As the line by Dennis Quaid, portraying Houston, from the fabulous yet underrated and slightly historically innaccurate, 2004 film goes; “No. You’ll settle for blood. I want Texas.”
Houston said after this calls for Santa Anna to hanged immediately. The line is delivered with such tremendous dialect by Quaid, it almost an injustice to simply write it.
In exchange for his life, Santa Anna signed all Mexican claim to Texas over to Houston and, among other agreements, ordered the withdrawal of his other forces from Texas, which could have regrouped to engage Houston’s force again.
As Houston went from craven to hero, Australian selectors, players and alike have silenced many doubters. However, as Houston showed his tenacity not to settle, Australia must not get swept away with one victory.
The Ashes is the ultimate prize and the Aussies must not rest on their laurels, particularly heading into Adelaide, which always loomed as England’s best chance of victory. Moreover the Gabba, along with the WACA, always appeared Australia’s best chance for victory.
Roarer Sheek pointed out on a forum, very aptly for this article’s analogy, he is glad England don’t have America’s sporting resolve. While like the Mexicans, who surrendered after one incisive blow, English sportsmen are noted for having a soft underbelly when the stakes are down.
But that doesn’t mean this English side will give up, nor should Australia rely on momentum to close out the victory.
The Texans, who were buoyed for revenge for the Alamo, delivered an incredible victory to force out Mexico, en rout to becoming an independent state, and later part of the Untied States.
Australia can use the victory at the Gabba as launch pad, on rout to winning back the Ashes.
If they show the same tenacity as Houston, there is no reason Australia shouldn’t win a famous victory.
In an episode of the sitcom The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon Cooper, the socially awkward genius, was repeatedly bested by his housemate Lenard Hofstadter, in Halloween inspired pranks.
After a cocky remark from Lenard, Sheldon responded, “I am also a son of the Lone Star Sate. I’m Texas through and through. And we know how to settle scores down there. If you doubt me, ask Mexico.”
Sheldon, having drawn inspiration from the brave deeds of his state, eventually bested Lenard. Australia too can best England.
Remember we’re Australians, and we know how to settle scores down here.
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