England news February 4, 2013

Vaughan tips England for Ashes double


Michael Vaughan, the former England captain who led them in regaining the Ashes eight years ago, believes that the current side have "a great chance" to win back-to-back series against Australia in 2013. England will fine-tune their preparations for the Ashes with home and away series against New Zealand and Vaughan suggested the strength in depth at Alastair Cook's disposal makes them strong favourites against an Australia side in transition.

Vaughan's England beat Australia 2-1 in 2005 for a first Ashes triumph in 18 years. That epic contest came against the likes of Ricky Ponting, Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne but current captain, Michael Clarke, is now the only Australia survivor from the series. Their plans were further disrupted by the retirement of Michael Hussey last month and while there are also questions over the make-up of England's best side, Vaughan feels that Cook has a significant advantage in being able to pick from a pool of "20-22 players that are good enough to play international cricket".

The Tests against Australia will provide the bulk of the England narrative in 2013, alongside an ambition in 50-overs cricket to win the Champions Trophy, and Vaughan said Cook's side were capable of extending their run of Ashes success into a fourth consecutive series.

"This year is all about winning these two big Ashes series," he said. "You've got to look at this year as an England player, and Alastair Cook as captain, and think 'I've got two great chances of winning two Ashes'. You won't get a better chance - you do not get a better chance of beating an Australian side than this. They're decent, they're strong, they've got positivity because Clarke's a very, very good captain and leader. But you look down from one to 11, probably one to 20 with the England side, and think 'I'd fancy that'.

"Look at Australia's top six - Hussey, Ponting gone. That top three is going to be got at, especially in these conditions. Clarke, can he keep playing the way that he's played for the last 12 months? You'd think not. England have got a great chance. In England I'd expect England to win comfortably, in Australia, it'll be tight but England should still win."

While only a single ranking point separates second-placed England and third-placed Australia in Tests, there has been anxiety Down Under about the team's overall strategy. Player rotation has become a key issue in Australia but England's gradual movement towards a squad game has caused less of a ripple. James Anderson and Stuart Broad were rested from the Edgbaston Test against West Indies last summer, while rotation in the limited-overs set-up has become commonplace, as both countries try to marshal their resources ahead of two eagerly anticipated series.

"I think rotation is a must in the modern game," Vaughan said. "I think you've got to very clever with the way that you manage the players to make sure they stay fresh for the big moments, the big series. I think where England are very lucky is that they have such a big pool of players to choose from now - there's probably 20-22 players that are good enough to play international cricket for England.

"If we'd tried to do that six, seven years ago it would have been difficult because you'd have been replacing players and rotating them and bringing players in who weren't necessarily ready to play and then the performance levels would drop. I think that's what's happening with Australia, I don't think they've got a big enough pool of players to be able to rotate but they have to rotate because you want to keep the best players fit for the big series."

Before Australia, England's focus is on New Zealand, with the T20 series starting on Saturday. Although Kevin Pietersen and Graeme Swann have been rested, with Pietersen sitting out the ODIs as well, England will be at full strength again for the three Tests. Nick Compton is likely to resume as Cook's opening partner, with Joe Root the man in possession at No. 6, and Vaughan said that pinning down their favoured batting order for the Ashes will be a priority on a tour that should provide useful challenges.

"New Zealand at home won't be as bad as people think they will be," he said. "I think it will be a series that England will win but New Zealand will put up a fight, they've got one or two decent bowlers. You lose a toss in New Zealand, you can get behind the eight ball quickly, the pitches can do all sorts in those first two or three hours. It's a tour England will certainly fancy winning 3-0, you'd expect, but you can't take any opposition at home lightly."

Yorkshire Tea is now the official brew of England cricket. The Little Urn and the Brew Crew will be entertaining fans during the Yorkshire Tea Break at Investec Test matches this summer - yorkshiretea.co.uk

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on February 7, 2013, 6:58 GMT

    English Series - England will win no doubt. It's a well known fact that Australia can't play a swinging ball (nor can anybody in world cricket ATM). The advantage being to England because they can play better than the Australians. Australian Series - England still, but closer. This series will come mainly down to experience, composure and last but not least skill. With this young Australian team, I can't see them downing a (not too much older) but better team,eEven on flat wickets.

  • Shanmugam on February 7, 2013, 6:58 GMT

    @Meety, "which could come out trumps in England", England's bowling trio of Anderson, Finn, and Broad could also come out trumps in England and Australia. The Aussies may have more depth in their fast bowling ranks but the English first choice pace bowlers aremore fit and have more experience among them than any 3 the Aussies choose. Glad that you admit Eng's top 7 and spin bowling is better. Considering the relative evenness in the pace bowling, perhaps the advantage Eng. hold in the other depts should shade it in their favor. Many thought Eng. would lose in Aus. last time but they were far superior to the Aussies that they inflicted 3 innings defeats. Except Perth, the Aussies don't start as favorites at any of the other venues.

  • Shanmugam on February 7, 2013, 6:52 GMT

    @Meety, perhaps if you could read, you would understand that I only meant that it is too early to compare Wade to Prior. I have even mentioned that Wade and Lyon may perform as good as, or even better than, Prior and Swann in the long term but atm, they cannot be compared. The English counterparts are proven performers across many conditions while the 2 Aussies are not.

    Re: Amla, yes, it was a mistake on my part but his ancestors did migrate from India. I was still correct about Tahir. For some reason, cricinfo didn't publish my subsequent post. The point was that place of birth does not matter. If that is the case, then Douglas Jardine should have played for India. Anyway, what is the need to mention that post in this article? What are you insinuating? That my comments don't mean anything because of that mistake? You have always been perfect in everything?

    cricinfo, please publish.

  • Andrew on February 7, 2013, 6:23 GMT

    @Shan156 on (February 6, 2013, 0:26 GMT) -re: Prior v Wade. If you understand anything about batting stats, generally FC stats are higher than Tests over time. Priors Test ave 43, FC 40 - it COULD be said, he has overperformed thus far, Wade Test 43 & FC 41, IF you are to say that Prior's FC ave is low because he as improved with age (fair call), how could you possibly exclude Wade from that benefit when he is 5 or 6 years younger? BTW - as Wade is young there is a fair expectation his keeping will improve (like Prior's did once he started playing Test cricket). Wade has already improved after some advice & re-tweaking of his training drills - he has brilliant this past 3 or 4 weeks FYI! BTW - have you finally worked out that Amla is a Sth African born player?

  • Andrew on February 7, 2013, 6:10 GMT

    @Milhouse79 on (February 5, 2013, 23:34 GMT) - LOL! Nice to see you remember me, happens when you get your preverbial kicked! @5wombats on (February 5, 2013, 9:34 GMT) - I take it you are still alive!. @JG2704 on (February 6, 2013, 18:49 GMT) - IMO, none of the asian/middle East matches can be taken as much of a guide to the Ashes. So on the positives for England, that means the UAE & SL don't matter & on the negative - the great win in India doesn't matter. That means Oz's better form over the last 18 mths is largely irrelevant & their better performance in SL is irrelevant as well. IMO the only form guide between the two teams is v Sth Africa. We both lost, although I felt Oz played better for no better reward. England have a more settled top 7 & better spin options, but I really rate Oz's pace stocks - which could come out trumps in England. If your saw the WAY Starc bowled the other day (albeit ODIs & v WIndies), you'll know why I am optimistic. Too close to call atm!

  • John on February 7, 2013, 1:34 GMT

    @pomshaveshortmemories on (February 6, 2013, 10:14 GMT), LOL at you bringing up the result of a T20 warmup game in a story about Ashes Tests!! Look up "irrelevant" in the dictionary some time. I seem to recall a few people made a few comments about England's less than stellar performances in the warmups before the recent Test series in India. How did that one go?

  • Graham on February 7, 2013, 0:55 GMT

    Shan156 - I believe that was my point exactly, if you look at the likes of Cook, Bell, Swann and Anderson there averages have only got better as they have started to belong at test level. Imagine Wade, Siddle, Warner, Hughes and Lyon in a couple of years. As for Lyon spin bowling averages tend to come down after a tour of India and go up after a tour of Australia - Lyon has played way more test cricket in Australia than Swann. Swann's average in Australia is poor imagine if he played over half his tests there as Lyon has done.

  • Graham on February 6, 2013, 22:56 GMT

    5wombats - Back in 2010/11 I wasnt sure how Siddle was getting a game, he is a far better bowler now. Bowls a much fuller length and asks a lot more questions of the batsman. Surely Australia wont make the mistake of bowling at the stumps of Trott or Cook again. I concede England are favourites and should be but dont think Australia have to raise there game too much to compete. Remember last series in England, australia had lost a lot of stars and were one wicket away in Cardiff or retaining the Ashes.

  • Martin on February 6, 2013, 21:28 GMT

    @A_Vacant_Slip - - good to see that you are still not in the cordon... Where have I been? thats a damned good question... down a deep dark hole. @Shan156 - hello again mate - it's nice to be back.

  • Rich on February 6, 2013, 20:01 GMT

    Yes, England are the better side. On Paper and historically. But cricket is a five day game that can change at any time. England fans, you may have a surprise or two this year. Fellow Aussies: Let's not go shouting things you may later regret, I for one am going to stick around these boards this Ashes to see who appears or not.