The Ashes 2010 May 25, 2010

Vaughan wants five-man attack for Ashes

Cricinfo staff

Former England captain Michael Vaughan believes England need to play five bowlers if they are to win an Ashes series in Australia for the first time since Mike Gatting's side did it over 20 years ago. However, Vaughan feels the current England set-up, led by coach Andy Flower and captain Andrew Strauss, will choose to play an extra-batsman instead.

"The debate all summer will be about England's formation," Vaughan told AFP. "Will it be six batters and four bowlers, or five and five? I firmly believe they are going to need five bowlers in Australia but I think this management group and Strauss will go with six and four.

"They will say they win as many games with four (bowlers) as they do with five. I guess the question I will say is 'well how many real top teams do we beat with four?'"

Vaughan opted for a five-man attack during England's thrilling home win over Australia in 2005. That line-up was led by a rampant Steve Harmison, and included Andrew Flintoff, Simon Jones, Matthew Hoggard and Ashley Giles. He also pointed out that England used five bowlers in their two Ashes Test victories in 2009.

"We beat Australia last year with Freddie (Flintoff) in the team twice, at Lord's and the Oval, and with five bowlers. I think we need five bowlers. I think Tim Bresnan is a good enough batter to bat at seven, with Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad at eight and nine. But I think they will go in with six (batsmen)."

Vaughan, while praising Swann, expressed concern that Australia could target England's player of the year if he was part of a four-man attack. "He's had a wonderful year but I just worry that if Swanny doesn't get it right and the opposition do attack him a little bit more, three seamers on days one and two looks very, very light," he said. "Maybe they'll get some overs out of Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood but they are not going to do much damage. We'll wait and see. But from what I've seen of Andy Flower, I think they'll go with six batters."

Vaughan went on to applaud England's victory in the World Twenty20 final, the team's first win in an ICC tournament, calling it an "amazing achievement". But he insisted it still didn't compare to the Ashes. "It's not as important as the Ashes, don't get me wrong. The Ashes is the pinnacle but, as an achievement, it's right up there."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on May 26, 2010, 6:07 GMT

    @Thomas Cherian, I agree with you that at some points in his career freddy's batting has been overrated, however at this moment in time I don't think one can conclude that Broad and Swann could contribute more to England in this department. The most obvious factor is that Flintoff has scored centuries for England. Although for the last 3 or 4 years of his career he didn't socore a first class century, he had the firepower and the ability to win matches with the bat for England, something Swann and Broad rarely do. Furthermore Flintoff has won an ashes series partly with his bat, neither Swann and Broad has dine this.

  • Dummy4 on May 26, 2010, 2:52 GMT

    reading the comments here, I feel Flintoff is being over rated for his contribution as a batsmen. The swann broad bresman can contribute more than Flintoff ever did...

  • Billy on May 26, 2010, 1:26 GMT

    I think England can win with four bowlers but looking at the big picture, Australia will start favourites and can beat England regardless of whether they have four or five bowlers. In terms of what is the better lineup for England, I would rate their chances of victory equal on whether they have four or five bowlers. The reason; England and Swann like having runs on the board and they are more likely to get that with the extra batsman. However, Australia does not really suit the off-spin style of Swann and so if he does have an off day, the other bowlers will get more exposed. So it's a 50-50 call.

  • Adam on May 26, 2010, 0:57 GMT

    One thing that must be taken into account is in australia the pitches ( with the scg as an exception) are historically not spinners' paradises. the WACA GABBA and MCG in particular delight pace bowlers with hard surfaces to extract more bounce from. england won't be able to rely purely on their new found spin king. That said they also have a strong pace line up. time will tell i guess

  • joel on May 25, 2010, 19:53 GMT

    to bat seven for england you must be allrounder in a county top 6. currently this would apply only to ben stokes (too young) and luke wright, who would be attacked by the aussies but could be successful much like Watson was vs. pakistan. therefore three pacemen (Finn, jimmy and bresnan) and swann is the way to go.

  • Manasvi on May 25, 2010, 15:42 GMT

    You're very correct, but the fact is that England lacks a genuine all rounder to bat at that crucial No.7 position and Matt Prior is a good batsman, but he's one place too high at No.6. If Kieswetter is selected ahead of Prior at 6, then I would consider playing 5 bowlers. But, I believe that Rashid should be selected in the XI. The Aussies are susceptible to spin bowling - Swann has had some success against them. And Rashid is a very good batsman, certainly good enough to bat at 7. He has a FC average of 37, which is much better than Bresnan (28), Swann (27) or Broad (24).

  • joel on May 25, 2010, 15:39 GMT

    every other team plays 4 but we can only win with 5? i think we underestimate their quality and given extra resposibility in a 4 man attack bresnan, finn and co. will most likely step up and perform.

  • Dan on May 25, 2010, 13:37 GMT

    I agree with Michael. England should always look to play with 5 bowlers, even against the 'weaker' nations. Against a good batting unit, it is very tough using only 4 bowlers. Problems arise when one bowler has an 'off' day, picks up an injury niggle, or is 'targeted' by the opposition. With 4 bowlers, this leaves the team/captain with very little options. I would therefore always play 5 bowlers.

  • ANKUR on May 25, 2010, 13:07 GMT

    This has always been the attitude of all english teams and captains over the years...the only thing in their mind is Winning Ashes Winning Ashes...They lose one and start preparing for the other..While picking players and captains they only think one thing->How will he perform in Ashes irrespective of the format...No wonder we see sorry state of england in the other formats....and what do we get to see ..they lose another ashes ...even if they somehow win one they lose the next one..Of late things have been changing in english cricket...I am not surprised that these comments came from vaughan who at best was test captain and player..Look at Australians ..they always each series important and look to win that ...not that they are not serious abot Ashes but for them its just another series as far as preparations are concerned...I hope we see some more sense in english cricket now that they finally seem to undergo a change..Lets see about Ashes when its there....

  • Dummy4 on May 25, 2010, 12:56 GMT

    That is a really good thought from the former skipper. But in the absence of a steady allrounder like Freddy Flintoff; I don't think that England would put five bowlers and weaken their batting. Bresnan is still a good choice

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