Current form hampering Ashes and World Cup plans June 18, 2006

Graveney urges England to improve

Cricinfo staff

David Graveney feels that England's form is hardly ideal especially with the Ashes in mind © Getty Images

Following England's defeat against Sri Lanka in the first ODI at Lord's, David Graveney, the chairman of selectors, warned that England will have to lift their performances in both forms of the game if they are retain the Ashes later this year and be a contender for the World Cup in 2007.

England have had an ordinary start to their summer, surrendering a 1-0 advantage in the three-Test series against Sri Lanka by losing the third Test at Trent Bridge, as well as the Twenty20 international which preceded the ODI series. The side has been plagued with injuries to key players like Andrew Flintoff and Simon Jones, while newcomers Glen Chapple and Ed Joyce are also among the casualties.

Graveney, however, said that it was time to stop using injuries as an excuse. He told BBC Sport, "If we continue to play the way we have been doing this summer, we will not retain the Ashes and we will not win the World Cup."

Commenting on Michael Vaughan, Graveney stressed that it was not worth rushing him back into the side as yet. Vaughan, who resumed his commitments with Yorkshire after undergoing knee surgery, said earlier that he wouldn't make himself available for selection till he feels he is fully fit.

"His value to the England team as a cricketer, as a captain, as a person is immense," Graveney said. "However, you want to play people in the best possible form and Michael Vaughan is quite right in saying that he wants to return when people look at Vaughan as a cricketer and are not worrying about how his knee is.

"I speak to him on a regular basis and we are not going to ring him every single hour of every single day to say 'How are you?' He knows the level of fitness that is required to be captain of England."

England's coach Duncan Fletcher added: "It's all up to him. He's the individual who's got to say whether he's ready to play. We can't say he's ready to play, it's up to Michael to make that decision."