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Damien Martyn has slammed his former coach John Buchanan over what he believes was poor preparation for the 2005 Ashes series and said England would never again play as well as they had that year. Martyn's criticism of Buchanan, who has taken on a consultancy role with the ECB, echoes the thoughts of Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill, who have never hidden their contempt for Australia's ex-coach.
"All comments by Warne and MacGill are right and you'd find that 99% of the group from that era would agree," Martyn said in an interview with the Wisden Cricketer. "They're just the only guys who've got [the courage] to say it. The management team didn't plan right, we had a not-very-good, quick preparation in Brisbane and then we landed and away we went.
"We played a Twenty20 against England, which England still talk about, flogging us down in Hampshire. Buck was saying, 'It's only a muck-around game, don't worry about it' and we trained for four hours on the morning. So we went from the nets next door, busting a gut, into a T20 game where they rolled up playing it like a Test match and flogged us. There were a lot of mistakes made and a lot will never come out."
Martyn has largely shunned the media spotlight since his surprise retirement midway through the 2006-07 Ashes campaign. However, he is set to take on a studio co-hosting role with MacGill and Greg Matthews in what promises to be a fascinating special comments team for the free-to-air TV coverage of the Ashes in Australia on the SBS network.
His memories of Australia's previous tour of England are not happy; he received a string of tough umpiring decisions - he believes Australia would have retained the urn had umpiring reviews been in use - and was axed for the Australian summer that followed. Martyn said Australia's preparation for the tour had been poor, which was one of "a million behind-the-scenes reasons" for the series defeat.
"We got slack, everything clicked for them, they haven't played that well since then and they won't ever again," Martyn said. "They built themselves up so much for the Ashes when the Ashes for us had dropped off because we'd won it so many times.
"For us it was conquering all things, World Cups, Champions Trophy, the subcontinent. The Ashes was just another series but for England it was their pinnacle and we just went underprepared."
Martyn has also warned about overburdening young stars like Phillip Hughes and David Warner with unrealistic expectations. Martyn himself was once viewed as a cricket wunderkind and debuted for Australia at 21 but soon faced a six-year absence from the Test team when he failed to live up to the early hype.
"It's what Cricket Australia does, they beef people up," he said. "You see it happening now with Phillip Hughes, you saw it with Dave Warner - no one knows about Warner any more - you've got to be very careful because it doesn't always go rosy. There is a responsibility for Cricket Australia."