September 9, 2002

Fit England could have real Ashes chance - Hussain

Nasser Hussain insisted that England have been through a summer of positives, despite falling short of a series win against India after the final npower Test was abandoned at The AMP Oval due to a final day wash-out.

England are unbeaten in their last three series, after drawing with New Zealand and India and beating Sri Lanka 2-0 earlier in the summer.

"We are playing a lot better cricket," the England captain said. "We have now got to move on from being a side that lost nearly everything to a side that finishes off games, which we haven't quite done.

"But there has been a lot of injuries and stuff, some pretty flat wickets as well. We have got to work out how to get 20 wickets, but there have been a lot of positives this summer - the coaching, Michael Vaughan and Marcus Trescothick."

"A lot of it depends on injuries. If we can get some key bowlers fit, I think we have got a real good chance against Australia - the best chance we have had for a while.

"The batting has clicked very well and if we can [now] sort out our other two disciplines, catching - which is going to be very important against them - and getting our fast bowlers quick and raring to go.

"We are in much more confident mood but they are obviously the best side in the world, they have hammered South Africa, they have hammered everyone."

Hussain also heaped wholehearted praise on England's coach. "I hope the ECB extend Duncan Fletcher's contract because he is the singular reason why we are more successful. They should sort that out immediately because he is the finest coach I have played under."

Meanwhile India's captain Sourav Ganguly pointed to his team's achievement in coming back from their defeat at Lord's, to have a chance after Headingley of winning the series.

"We did not play well at Lord's, but we knew there were three Tests to go and that we were a good side and I was happy with the way we played after that," Ganguly said.

"I thought we batted pretty well this series. I thought maybe we could have seen a bit better from the bowlers, but they have not got a lot of experience behind them and I hope they will learn from this tour.

"We won the Test series in India, drew the one-day series in India, won the one-day series here and drew the Test series here so I think that will sum up who was the best side," Ganguly added.

For all the runs scored by England's man of the series Michael Vaughan, he insisted that the highlight of his series was with the ball.

"Probably getting Sachin [Tendulkar] out [at Trent Bridge] to be honest," Vaughan told Channel Four. "The runs are obviously delightful, but with my dribble of off-spin, to get a world-class batsman out like Sachin was pretty special.

"I have been in pretty good touch all the way through. The wickets have been very flat, I have had a bit of luck, been dropped a few times - but I made them pay which is the main thing."

Rahul Dravid's magnificent batting won him the man of the match award, and he was also made India's man of the series.