~~Aussie coach wary of Vaughan smokescreen~~

Published: Friday, October 6, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Sydney:Australian Test coach John Buchanan has dismissed talk surrounding Michael Vaughan's Ashes prospects in this year's home cricket series with England as a "smokescreen."

Vaughan, the England captain, said Thursday he hoped to return from knee surgery to play in the final two of the five Ashes Tests as England look to retain the little urn.

Buchanan said he was not surprised by the reports and has revealed he consulted with Australian fast bowler Jason Gillespie, recently returned from a stint with Yorkshire, for updates on England's injured captain.

"I never bought into the will-he-won't-he talk," Buchanan told The Sydney Morning Herald Friday.

"We will wait and see what squad they bring, and if some of what has been suggested about him playing in the Ashes has been a smokescreen. To us, this news wasn't unexpected.

"We haven't been doing any specific scouting of him, but I have spoken to Jason (Gillespie) a few times.

"He has been in and around the Yorkshire side and has been seeing how Vaughan is doing. We fully expect England to have a very similar side to the one that played in the last Ashes series.

"A fit Vaughan is important, not just to England as a batsman but also in the way that he leads. I'm sure he'll do everything he can to play in the Ashes."

Vaughan has not played for England this year after surgery on his right knee. He was on crutches for six weeks and initially ruled himself out of the Ashes.

Vaughan is expected to join England's shadow Ashes squad in Perth and will continue his rehabilitation there, hopeful of returning to England's helm for the fourth Boxing Day Test in Melbourne.

"Everything would have to go perfectly between now and then, but it is in my mind," Vaughan told a British newspaper.

"There is a small window of opportunity. I would have to make runs immediately in Perth and, of course, I would have to stay fit.

"It would also depend on the state of the series and how the England management are thinking. But it is definitely what I am aiming for and definitely a target."


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