England in India 2005-06 March 15, 2006

England not yet world beaters - Richards

Cricinfo staff



Richards: 'I always felt Freddie had really underachieved but now he's superb in every game' © Getty Images

Viv Richards, the former West Indies captain, has said that England have taken a step backward after wresting the Ashes from Australia last year.

"It's all well and good winning a series at home against the best in the world as they did in the Ashes. But you only become great when the odds are really stacked against you and you come out on top," Richards told BBC Sport. "As it stands, England have gone backwards quite a bit since the summer."

England lost the Test series 2-0 in Pakistan in December 2005, and go into the final Test against India in Mumbai, trailing 1-0. Richards said that to be a great team England had to win in both Pakistan and India.

"I remember India and Pakistan were really hard places to tour - the hardest in the game in fact," said Richards. "It's not just that their teams are so hard to beat; the conditions are tough and generally most of the team are ill. When you overcome that - what I like to call beating a bad dog in his backyard - only then do you become real world beaters."

England have to win at Mumbai to draw the series and Richards said that with someone like Andrew Flintoff, whom he compared with Ian Botham, at the helm the tourists can pull it off.

"I've been watching Freddie on the TV and he sounds really pumped up. It's a really tough ask to win but I wouldn't put anything past him," Richards said. "He's a really magnificent player and, at times, it's like a mirror of Ian Botham. I always felt Freddie had really underachieved but now he's superb in every game. He's the aggressive player England have missed for so many years.

"When he and Kevin Pietersen are at their best at the crease, it kind of reminds me of West Indies when we were at our peak."

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