London: Former England captain Nasser Hussain today came down heavily on England of going soft since their 2005 Ashes victory and urged them to improve thier mental approach.
Hussain opined that the England still possess the raw materials to become a big force in the world cricket. " The area of concern for me is mental; they need tougheninng up" he added.
Hussain, who captained the side in 45 Tests between 1999 and 2003, was particularly critical of England's batsmen.
"There is a softness about some of the batsmen that is preventing them delivering the big runs. There is a sense that being England players is enough. They feel comfortable in the side and think they have fulfilled their potential," he said.
Hussain, 39, said two forthcoming series against New Zealand were an essential part of the preparation for the 2009 Ashes series in England.
"Back-to-back Test series against a weak New Zealand side give them a chance to get back to winning ways and build for the Ashes in 2009," he said.
England relinquished the Ashes in Australia last year when they were thrashed 5-0. They have slumped from second to fifth in the International Cricket Council Test rankings after losing in Sri Lanka late last year.