Ricky Ponting has been here before. If their successes over the last four years had soothed the wounds of their 2005 Ashes heartache, the captain has already had a vivid reminder of how voraciously the English public receive Australian failure on this tour. The Australians were scheduled to have a net session at Lord's this morning, ahead of their anticipated assault on the latter stages of the World Twenty20.
That has been cancelled in the wake of their early exit from the competition, which was sealed by a six-wicket defeat to Sri Lanka. Instead, Ponting's squad will be faced with two weeks kicking their heels in the Midlands town of Leicester. "That won't be great for anybody," said Ponting. It has not taken long for their failure to be seized upon. The morning after their defeat to Sri Lanka, one UK newspaper ran the headline: "What do you call an Aussie at the Twenty20? A spectator."
Meanwhile, the radio and television stations have been offering up ideas as to exactly how the Australians will be able to fill their time in Leicester. Paul Nixon, the former England wicketkeeper, who is a vocal cheerleader for his home town, pointed to the fact it will play host to the Special Olympics next month. Residents are proud of the fact Leicester will be the first city to have staged that event twice.
Sky Sports News encouraged viewers to text in with ideas. They ranged from attending the Abbey Pumping Station, the National Space Centre, or the National Gas Museum, where Australia's players could see the "biggest collection of gas and gas related artefacts in the world". Geoff Lawson, the former Australia fast bowler and erstwhile Pakistan coach, who is in England commentating for the BBC, predicted his compatriots would be spending much of their time in pool halls.
For his part, Ponting foresees plenty of net sessions ahead of the serious business of the Ashes this summer. "Now we have nothing else to think about and nothing else to talk about other than Test cricket," said Ponting, whose side have lost 13 out of 23 Twenty20 internationals. "We have to make sure we get over this quickly and start focusing on the red ball and the white clothing over the next couple of months.
"I won't be focusing on the negative stuff that has happened here, it is about focusing on the positives our Test team have created over the past couple of months." England went the hard way to maintain their own involvement in the World Twenty20. Losing to the Netherlands then thrashing Pakistan would not have been the route to the Super Eight stage they had planned. They play the powerful South Africans tomorrow in their first match of the second phase, and Kevin Pietersen is ready to play through the pain of his lingering Achilles problem.
"What cures it is two or three months out of the game and that ain't happening - I'm not missing that," he said, referring to the Ashes, which follows this competition. "I didn't want to miss Friday and I certainly wasn't going to miss the game against Pakistan." email@example.com