Yardy insists England still focussed
Michael Yardy is confident England can regain their focus to take a 4-0 lead over Australia after they were perhaps the only Englishmen celebrating in Manchester on Sunday night. While the rest of the city was commiserating over a rotten line call and an early World Cup exit, Yardy and his colleagues were basking in a series triumph that they hope will become a clean-sweep over the next week.
"When you win a series it's important that you celebrate," Yardy said at The Oval ahead of Wednesday's fourth match. "I don't think it went out of hand. But the main focus is on trying to get 4-0 and move on from there. We've got to win this game at The Oval. We've had three very good games, and a tight one in the last game."
Yardy believes there are still areas in which England can improve, especially given the nerve-racking finish at Old Trafford, where they collapsed and nearly lost a match they had dominated. The bowlers have done well to maintain the pressure on an experienced Australian batting line-up, and through the middle overs that has largely been down to the spin duo of Yardy and Graeme Swann.
Swann won the rewards on Sunday, with four wickets and a Man-of-the-Match award, but the Australians have also struggled to get on top of Yardy's left-armers. It is an interesting role for Yardy, who barely bowls at first-class level but has sent down more overs than any other England player so far this series.
"It is strange but I think it just shows the different forms of the game and how very different they are," Yardy said. "Graeme Swann has made himself probably the best spinner in the world at the moment. His stats don't lie. He's been the leading wicket taker or right up there in every series he's played of one-day cricket, Twenty20 or Test match cricket.
"That's why he deserves the plaudits, because he's taking the wickets. It's great to bowl with him because at the moment he's an attacking spinner. I always ask him what he thinks of the pitch and the opposition and what to do in certain situations. He's very helpful with that. He's got a very positive outlook, which rubs off on everyone, especially me."
England have appeared bright and confident over the past week, and it has shown through in their style of play. The challenge is to maintain that attitude now that the series has been decided, and Yardy said it was too early yet to be talking about a possible whitewash.
"It's important that we keep the momentum going and confidence going in this game and not look too far ahead," he said. "It's been a great series win but I don't think we're finished."
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo