When I was considering Australia’s Ashes triumph, something came to mind. There was a scene in the great movie The Sting in which the Robert Redford character is playing cards with Robert Shaw (the bad guy).

Greg Cary

Greg Cary

Sports writer

Anything sporting to add? email me at greg@bmag.com.au

He looks over his shoulder and says to his partner, Paul Newman: “They’re not as tough as they think they are.”  Newman replies laconically: “Neither are we.”

I was reminded of this lesson in humility as several senior figures in the Aussie camp wasted little time following the Ashes victory suggesting that we were more than ready for South Africa. When asked if our bowling attack was better, Peter Siddle gave an answer as uncomplicated as his run up: “Yes”.

He repeated it several times for those slow on the uptake. The skipper and coach were right to be more cautious. Dale Steyn with 350 wickets from 69 tests would’ve been smiling.

Our victory over England was comprehensive but time will judge to what extent their poor play was a contributing factor. Suffice to say that our batting still lacks consistency and will find it tougher against the likes of Steyn and Morkel on their home wickets.

We will also be bowling to a more accomplished and resolute Proteas batting line-up. The South Africans are genuinely tough and any attempt to sledge them will backfire big time. Australia has good reason to celebrate their Ashes triumph, but would do well to underplay their hand as the new challenge begins

As Teddy Roosevelt advised long ago: better to speak quietly and carry a big stick!