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Australia’s affair with the bouncer an intimidation tool of Ashes past

After Phil Hughes’ death, memories of the short ball will never be the same, but Australia remains obsessed with breaking England

The Ashes of 2013-14 casts a long shadow. Mitchell Johnson is the gunslinger at sunset. He defines the modern genre like John Wayne did Westerns. From months ago, when anticipation of the current Ashes series began, through to the close of the Gabba Test this week and looking to the matches ahead, there has been an obsession with short-pitched bowling, with fright and intimidation, with spooked Englishmen being taken apart, their egos sent home in tiny pieces.

All that we see is cast in terms of four years ago. All that we hear invokes it. It’s almost like the 2015 Ashes didn’t happen. Remember that? Slotted in-between somewhere, a few twilit memories of English grounds. Someone mentioned careers ending: Brad Haddin, Shane Watson, Michael Clarke, Ryan Harris, Chris Rogers. Then Big Bad Mitch himself a couple of games later.

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