England not scared of playing Australia anymore - Warne
England have scored two major victories against Australia in less than a year - the ICC World Twenty20 final and the Ashes in 2009 - and Shane Warne believes they now have the mindset and the team necessary to try and accomplish the hardest challenge in cricket - winning a Test series in Australia. In his column for the Daily Telegraph, Warne wrote that England took "a small psychological advantage" from beating Australia in Sunday's final in Barbados and sent a message that "they [Australia] have to play very well to beat them [England] now in any form of the game".
"In the past, they [England] thought that if they played at their best they might nick a win. Now they think, "We can beat this lot". That feeling of being scared of playing Australia has disappeared," Warne wrote. "Australia were just starting to build a bit of momentum and find some consistency in the aftermath of losing last year's Ashes. But the first time they came up against England in a final, they lost."
Warne, however, said the Ashes in Australia was the hardest series to win and England were whitewashed 5-0 on their last trip there in 2006-07. But this squad, Warne felt, had the "right tools" to succeed in Australia later this year. "In Graeme Swann they have a spinner who, when you examine every format of the game, is the best in the world right now," Warne said. "In Kevin Pietersen, England also have, not the best, but the most destructive batsman."
Pietersen was the Player of the Tournament in the West Indies, having scored 248 runs at an average of 62. Warne said the IPL and the World Twenty20 helped Pietersen rediscover his touch which was vital because, apart from his contributions, Pietersen's team-mates also fed off his form.
"He [Pietersen] was struggling in the Test arena. When he gets into trouble he gets technical and reads too much into things. He is best when he plays on instinct and in Twenty20 there is not much time to think. You just have to go out there and hit the ball. For the last couple of months he has not had to worry about technique and building innings. He has just had to smack the ball and impose himself. To be the Player of the Tournament will be great for his ego.
"It is also great for England because all the other players seem to walk a bit taller when KP is playing well. They feed off him. Also the opposition concentrates on getting KP out so much that it allows others to play with freedom."
Warne also called Swann the "most improved cricketer in the world." "What has struck me most is that as an offspinner there are only certain ways you can get people out. But he [Swann] has more than that, he really changes his pace well. Normally when spinners bowl faster they lose their spin. But he can bowl quicker deliveries and still turn it. It is a very good gift and he can adapt it to all forms of the game. He is always trying to work out in his mind how to get wickets. That is what I like about him - he attacks."