England look to rebound After Ashes debacle

Published: Wednesday, January 10, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
Share this on your social network:
   Facebook Twitter Google+    Comments Mail

More images
Melbourne:They were thrashed in the Ashes and their recent limited-overs record is abysmal, but England hope the return of captain Michael Vaughan will boost their fortunes in the triangular One-day series in Australia.

With the World Cup just months away, the tournament, starting Friday, is an important chance for England, Australia and New Zealand to hone their One-day skills and Vaughan returns to lead an English side seemingly in disarray.

Under the leadership of Andrew Flintoff, they became the first English side to lose an Ashes series 5-0 in more than 80 years, they have not won a match since they arrived on Australian soil more than two months ago, and their One-day international record offers little comfort, with just seven wins in their past 27 games.

On Tuesday, in Vaughan's first game back at the helm, the English were again humbled by Australia, this time in a Twenty20 bash.

England open the triangular series at the Melbourne's MCG on Friday, in another daunting clash with an Australian team strongly favoured to win its third World Cup in succession in the West Indies.

Speaking after the loss on Tuesday, Vaughan admitted the English were struggling, but said they hoped to gain some momentum in the triangular series.

"We've just got to make sure that over the next couple of days we think up a strategy for the One-day game to try to build up for the World Cup," Vaughan said.

"Playing the No.1 One-day team in the world in their own backyard is going to be pretty difficult, but there's no reason why we can't try to compete and try to beat them in a few of these games.

"That's the main aim of the team now -- to try to develop this thinking towards being successful in the One-day game."

It is an unenviable position in which the 2005 Ashes hero finds himself, as he struggles with his own game as he returns from knee surgery and tries to rebuild England's shattered confidence.

He has not played a One-day international since July 12, 2005 and his record in limited-overs cricket is modest, averaging 28.36 with a strike rate of 68.

For England to improve, they will need Flintoff back at his aggressive best with bat and ball and Kevin Pietersen to excel.

Cult figure Monty Panesar will get his chance to impress at One-day level.

Triangular series rival, New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming, said he expected England to improve sharply with Vaughan back in charge.

"They get their skipper back, who'll make a pretty big difference and they've got players, the Pietersens and the Flintoffs, who can certainly turn a One-day game on their own," Fleming said.

While Vaughan has his hands full, there are few problems for skipper Ricky Ponting, who can call upon the match-winning talents of the likes of Andrew Symonds, Adam Gilchrist and Mike Hussey.

Opener Matthew Hayden will be out to impress as he looks to secure a World Cup berth at the top of the order, while Brett Lee, Glenn McGrath and Stuart Clark are quality pace bowlers.

Ponting said Australia's Twenty20 form was an ominous sign for the One-day series.

The Kiwis are a proven One-day outfit, coming off a drawn series with Sri Lanka.

They have two of the best bowlers in the world in paceman Shane Bond and spinner Daniel Vettori, but the Kiwis are resting the injured Kyle Mills, Scott Styris and Jacob Oram.

The performances of Fleming, veterans Nathan Astle and Craig McMillan and wicketkeeper-batsman Brendon McCullum with the bat will be pivotal to their success.

Fleming said the Australians were formidable, but not unbeatable, pointing to the absence of injured all-rounder Shane Watson and the lack of a frontline spinner as weaknesses.


Write Comments