Ahead of the first Ashes Test Match, starting very late tonight, England have taken a slender psychological lead by winning the media war up to this point. What is said off the pitch, in sport as intense as this, more often than not, sets the tone for how the teams play on the pitch.
This is especially important as the first day at Brisbane (venue for First Test) sets the tone for the entire Ashes series. Last time around in 2006, the first delivery of the first day was bowled by England's Andrew Harmison, it ended up in the hands of his captain at second slip - without the batsman edging it. We went on to lose 5-0.
Professionalism of sports teams when it comes to communications amazes me. There generally is none. Think of the average Premiership football team and how they spend millions on their team, stadium and training facilities then allow their star players to mouth off in the media like teenagers. Or the managers who allow themselves to get drawn into slanging matches with opponents and officials rather than concentrating on their own team's performance.
Some sports are learning, such as the European Ryder Cup players who voluntarily stepped away from using Twitter during the tournament. They recognised how easy it is to let your emotions or frustrations out to the world via social or traditional media, so undermining your team or boosting your opponents.
Ahead of the Ashes, Australia have been ramping up the rhetoric while England have been quietly getting on with their business. Australian paceman Mitchell Johnson commented, in regard to England's in form captain Andrew Strauss: "You've got to get your bouncer high to him and just be aggressive. I'm sure Ricky [Ponting] wants to get into his mind a little bit so we'll give out some verbals if we think it's going to work against him."
In contrast England have exuded confidence ever since they arrived Down Under. They have refused to rise to the baiting from the Australian players and former players in the media - much to the Australian's annoyance. In a way they are acting more like Australians than the Aussies themselves. This message discipline from an England team (of any sport) is very welcome and has put England in a strong position.
The England captain kept things relatively calm but assured at his last press conference before play begins saying: "I don’t think we could be in a much better position than where we are at the moment. We are used to winning."
Amen to that.