Flintoff and Jones key to Ashes says Waugh

Published: Wednesday, June 11, 2008, 12:28 [IST]
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London: Former Australia captain Steve Waugh believes fast bowlers Andrew Flintoff and Simon Jones hold the key to England's hopes of regaining the Ashes on home soil next year.

"It'll be very hard for England to win without him (Flintoff)," Waugh told the July issue of the Wisden Cricketer magazine.

"When he's there he's got a certain aura about him. Simon Jones is the other one that England need to get back in the fold as soon as they can."

Flintoff and Jones were England's leading wicket takers in the victorious 2005 Ashes series, with 42 wickets between them, but have never played a Test together since.

Jones hasn't played a Test since the fourth Ashes match against Australia three years ago at Trent Bridge after a succession of injuries but is now back bowling for Worcestershire.

Flintoff, whose most recent Test was against Australia in Sydney in Jan 2007 where he captained England in a defeat that saw them lose the last Ashes 5-0, is currently out with a side injury after having suffered with ankle trouble.

Waugh, 43, believes England, who last weekend wrapped up a 2-0 series win over New Zealand, require consistency in team selection but was hopeful they could mount a strong challenge for the Ashes.

"That's what Test cricket is all about. There's no doubt England have talent out there. After winning the last series here you'd expect a good battle.

He added: "I think they're looking for some more stability in their side and for England's sake they've got to stick to 12-13 players for a while and believe in that group."

Waugh said Australia remained a "formidable" team despite the retirements of leading players Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist and Justin Langer.

"The replacements are excellent and there seems to be players that are willing to come in and do it straight away," Waugh said.

"Mitchell Johnson came along last year, Brett Lee stepped up and there's Stuart Clark. I still think we're a very formidable side."

Meanwhile Waugh said he would have liked to have played in the new, lucractive, domestic Twenty20 event in India.

"It's a bit like Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket. It's new and never been done before and to be a part of that would be pretty special. Look, I think I would have played if I'd been asked."

However he stressed it was important Test cricket retained its position at the summit of world cricket.

"Young kids are going to love Twenty20. But we also have to make sure they know about Test cricket and why it's important. Because if you don't, then you might lose it."


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