Eng look to bounce back after Gabba debacle

Published: Monday, November 27, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Brisbane:England's players hope to erase memories of the demoralising defeat to Australia by getting it right for the second Adelaide Test, captain Andrew Flintoff said.

Flintoff welcomed the back-to-back scheduling of the first two Tests because it meant his players could not dwell on their 277-run caning in the first Ashes Test.

"It's not a bad thing to have a Test match coming around straight away, we can sink our teeth into it, go straight into it," Flintoff said on Monday.

"We can't mope around, we've got four Test matches to play and to be thrown into another one at this stage is probably the best thing that can happen for us."

Flintoff conceded England needed to make huge improvements before Adelaide after a Gabba performance where too many players succumbed to big-match nerves, the bowling attack conceded 804 runs and strike paceman Steve Harmison spectacularly self-destructed.

But the inspirational all-rounder insisted morale in the dressing room remained high and England's Ashes defence remained on track, pointing out that England lost the first game of the last series but still emerged victorious.

"The dressing room's been fine, obviously we're disappointed to go 1-0 down, but there's some characters in that room, some real tough lads," he said.

"Disappointed as we are we can't mope around, we can't sit around thinking too much, we've got to learn from it obviously."

"Some of us have been in this position before, 1-0 down in an Ashes series with four to play, we're going to take all the positives we can from this game forward to Adelaide."

He said the biggest positive was England's performance on the fourth day, when Paul Collingwood and Kevin Pietersen flayed Australia's bowlers during a 153-run fourth-wicket stand.

"That partnership showed what good players they are and took a bit of pride from the game for us," he said.

Flintoff defended Harmison, who opened the series with a monstrous wide delivery that sprayed to second slip and came away from the Test with one wicket for 177 runs.

"The big question. Everyone's asking about Steve and it's fair to say Harmy's not bowling as well as he can do, he knows that," Flintoff said of the speedster, whose aggression helped take on Australia in the last series but who became a figure of Gabba ridicule.

"He's desperate to get into this series, he's desperate to bowl the way we know he can and he's working towards that. Hopefully, everything will come right for him."

Flintoff held up ageing Australian paceman Glenn McGrath, who defied his critics by taking 7-103 in his comeback Test, as an example to his misfiring bowling attack.

"We've got to put the ball in the right areas, you saw how Glenn McGrath bowled and he was just putting the ball there all the time and that's something we've got to learn from," he said.

Flintoff bristled at suggestions that his own batting failure - a duck in the first innings followed by 16 - was because he was distracted by the responsibilities of captaining England.

"When I'm out in the middle I'm batting and facing some high-class bowlers there's only one thing on my mind, to hit the ball and score some runs, so I wouldn't read too much into it," he said.

However, he said he would continue to pick the brains of last year's Ashes captain, Michael Vaughan, who has had knee surgery but is in Australia recuperating.

Flintoff refused to speculate on whether England would take two spinners into the Adelaide Test but did reveal that if he won the toss England would attempt to put pressure back on Australia by batting first.

"We played at Adelaide last week and it was a pretty flat deck, not a great deal of pace, so winning a toss would be nice and, if the wicket was anything like last week, having a bat," he said.


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