Improve form or give up Ashes hopes: Graveney

Published: Sunday, June 18, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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London, :Instead of finding a convenient excuse in injury, English cricketers should raise their form or it would be day-dreaming to hope for retaining the Ashes and doing well in next year's World Cup, said chief selector David Graveney.

Speaking to BBC Five Live Sport after England's 20-run defeat by Sri Lanka, Graveney also asked the players to stop finding an excuse in the team's long list of injuries.

''If we continue to play the way we have been doing this summer, we will not retain the Ashes and we will not win the World Cup,'' he said.

He was also against rushing regular captain Michael Vaughan into the squad.

''His value to the England team as a cricketer, as a captain, as a person is immense. However, you want to play people in the best possible form and Michael Vaughan is quite right in saying that he wants to return when people look at Michael Vaughan as a cricketer and are not worrying about how his knee is.

''I speak to him on a regular basis and we are not going to ring him every single hour of every single day to say 'How are you?' He knows the level of fitness that is required to be captain of England,'' said Graveney.

Apart from seniors like Andrew Flintoff, Ashley Giles and Simon Jones, newcomers Ed Joyce and Glen Chapple are also injured but that should not be an excuse, said the chief selector.

He also said there could not be any justification for a performance like the match against Sri Lanka where the team conceded 42 extras.

''When you bowl 23 wides, you are not going to win a game of cricket... and I'm sure Duncan (Fletcher) and the management team will seek to address that,'' he said.

''We have to move on from the events of last summer - we have to look forwards, we have a challenge and the Australians are waiting.

''We have to make sure that when the guys get on a plane to go to Australia, we have the best possible team prepared both physically and mentally, because the Australian nation are deeply hurt by the fact that they lost the Ashes,'' he warned.

Graveney is, however, convinced that a first choice England squad can match their Australian hosts this winter.

''Australia are the number one ranked team in the world - they were at the beginning of the (2005) Ashes, they were at the end of it - but I think their aura has changed.

''If we play at our very best - and it will be very difficult - we can certainly retain the Ashes,'' he added.

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