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May 25, 2010
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."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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