London: These are tough times for Australian cricket. Beaten in a home Test series by South Africa, thrashed 4-0 away in India, and now eliminated from the Champions Trophy without as much as a consolation win. A trophy cabinet once so full that even dust struggled to find space has emptied out, and it's been George Bailey's fate - with Michael Clarke injured - to preside over the surrender of the last major title in Australia's possession.
The optimists might point you to the summer of 1989. Australia arrived for the Ashes having won just one Test in the previous 12 months, a dead rubber against West Indies in Sydney. Their ODI record in the same period was a middling 6-6. England, who had won the last two Ashes series, were scalding-hot favourites. Australia won 4-0.
Bailey, who isn't part of the Ashes squad, was asked if he was confident that his teammates could turn things around, and what that confidence was based on. "There is probably not a great deal of confidence there," he said with the candour that has been one of the highlights of his leadership. "But it's just a very different mindset, I think, going from a one-day tournament to Tests. The Ashes just tends to bring out something special in both sides. Whatever's written and said leading up to those games, the result of that first Test [at Trent Bridge, starting on July 10] will dictate how the summer plays out."