England can upstage Australia: Gough

Published: Friday, January 7, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Melbourne:England have the players to win back cricket's famous Ashes from Australia this year, England paceman Darren Gough said here.

Gough, here to play for the World XI against Asia in Monday's Asian tsunami appeal one-dayer at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, conceded winning the Ashes for the first time since 1987 would be difficult.

But the 34-year-old fast bowler, who retired from Test cricket in 2003 after chronic knee problems to become a one-day specialist, believes the current side is the best he has seen in his playing career.

"We've got players now who are not scarred by it (regular defeats by Australia)," Gough told a press conference on Friday.

"We've got players now who are all confident and at the top of their game."

Australia won back the Ashes from England in 1989 and haven't lost in seven subsequent series.

Gough warned Australia was the Test cricket benchmark and pointed to his own experience of never having played in a series win over Australia as proof of how confidence can suddenly erode when faced with the world's No.1 cricket nation.

"When I first came here in 1994, I genuinely believed we could beat Australia and obviously after we were 3-0 down, I realised that we couldn't," Gough said.

"I want to be there in the stands when England win the Ashes again, but it's going to be very difficult.

"The way they've played at home the last two series against New Zealand and Pakistan, the way they blitzed Pakistan in all three Tests, you've just got to admire it."

England had been unbeaten in their previous 13 Tests until Thursday's 196-run loss to South Africa in the third (not second) Test in Cape Town.

"What we've done over the last year is gain confidence by beating Test teams," Gough said.

"What we're doing all this time is building confidence, the players are playing their natural game and that's what we needed before we play Australia.

"In the past we've been playing Australia when we've been losing.

"Now we're getting momentum, the selection is a lot better than it used to be, and the players are up for a challenge."

The first Ashes Test gets underway at Lord's on July 21.

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