TOUGH MATCH

Michael Vaughan thinks that it’s not going to be one-way traffic for England in the upcoming Ashes as they will have to face a more settled Australian team this time around.

When Australia had toured England for the Ashes a couple of months back, they were looking completely unsettled. Except two or three players, nobody was a certainty in the XI.

In the first couple of matches of the series, the Kangaroos struggled a lot. But, as the series went on, they started finding the right kind of balance and towards the end of the series; they gave England a run for their money.

Now for the upcoming Ashes, the Australian team is looking much more settled. Not many places in the XI are up for grabs. The Australians will be playing in their home conditions too. So, one cannot just write off Australia for this Ashes. They will not let England just run away with the games and that’s what Vaughan also had to say when he was asked about the upcoming Ashes.

The former England captain said, “Australia will be more settled this time around and they will have a good idea of the conditions as well. So, I don’t think it’s going to be that easy for England.”

“The pitches in Australia are going to be different. They will be a bit quicker and the Aussies are used to playing on those kinds of surfaces. So, they will find it easier than the English players.”

“England will have to play better than how they played at home. They were clearly not at their best this summer, but, they managed to play better than the opposition and that’s what you need to do.”

England had beaten Australia by 3-0 in the previous Ashes series.

BELL BACKS ROOT

The England middle order batsman, Ian Bell, has said that Joe Root has the ability to become a great test match player in the future.

Root has made a brilliant start to his test career. He has played 8 test matches so far and has scored 2 centuries and 2 half centuries. He is averaging in high forties in test match cricket at the moment.

Root is an opening batsman, but, in the first few matches of his test career, he played in the middle order. The latest betting online reckons he will be a top order batsman before too long!

In this Ashes series, the England team management decided to make him the opening partner of Alastair cook and the Yorkshire player proved that decision right. He has looked solid at the top of the order.

Root is currently the second highest run scorer in the ongoing Ashes series. He is behind Ian Bell who has scored 317 runs.

When asked about the hundred of Joe Root at Lord’s, Bell said, “It was a quality knock. Joe has got amazing maturity at such a young age. His partnership with Tim Bresnan on the fourth day was crucial.”

“The thing that I like about Joe is that he doesn’t throw it away after getting a good start. He knows how to build an inning.”

Bell himself has also been in amazing form off late. He has scored a couple of hundreds and a half century in the two test matches of the ongoing Ashes series so far.
When asked about that, Bell said, “I didn’t have much success against Australia in the past. So, it’s wonderful to start with a couple of centuries this time around. However, there is still a lot of cricket to be played in the series and I need to continue my good form.”

MUST DO BETTER

The former England captain, Michael Vaughan, has said that England should have done much better on the first day of the second Ashes test match.
England batted first after winning the toss at Lord’s and when the play ended on the first day, they had lost 7 wickets for 289.

Analysing the first day’s play, Vaughan said, “It was a beautiful batting track. The ball was coming on nicely and I thought that it would be a fruitful day for England. But, it wasn’t to be.”

“I wouldn’t say Australia bowled impressively throughout the day. But, they bowled well in patches. Ryan Harris in particular was fantastic. He got nice shape going and created a lot of problems for the batters.”

“The English camp would be disappointed with how things went on the first day. They had the opportunity to bat Australia out of the match by posting a huge total in the first innings, but, they couldn’t do that.”

When asked about Ian Bell who scored his second consecutive hundred in the series, Vaughan said, “He is a class act. He again played a great knock. But, it would have been wonderful if he had been there at the crease at the end of the day’s play.”

“I would say that the game is still evenly poised. It’s important for England to get a few quick runs tomorrow morning. On the other hand, Australia would like to wrap up the England innings as soon as possible.”

Vaughan also hailed Michael Clarke’s pro activeness as captain. He said, “Clarke was fantastic as captain on the first day. A couple of his bowling changes were brilliant. To bring Shane Watson into the attack so early in the innings was certainly an inspired decision.”

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VAUGHAN PLAYS COACH

Michael Vaughan has advised the out of form English opener Nick Compton to relax and not to think too much about his technique.

Compton is going through a dreadful phase at the moment. He is looking horribly out of touch and in his last 5 test innings, he has scored just 47 runs at an average of 9.40.

There have been speculations that Compton might be left out of the England squad for the upcoming Ashes series and on his place, Joe Root who has been in terrific form recently might be sent to open with Alastair Cook.

When asked about Compton’s recent form, Vaughan said, “His form has been poor in the last couple of test matches. He was struggling in domestic circuit as well before this series. I had seen him bat for Somerset at this venue a couple of weeks back and he had scored runs with a strike rate of almost 30. He was finding it very hard to hit the ball from the middle of the bat.”

“Players start thinking about different kinds of things when they go through a bad patch and the same is happening with Nick at the moment. He is thinking too much about his technique and that doesn’t help. He needs to switch off for some time.”

When asked about Joe Root’s hundred on the second day of the Headingley test match, Vaughan said, “That was a flawless knock. This young man is a special player and I see him as the future England captain. His temperament is just superb. He was playing test match cricket on his home ground for the first time, but, he didn’t look nervous at all and that’s incredible for a 22 years old guy.”

Root scored 104 runs off 167 balls in England’s first innings in the second test match against New Zealand.

VAUGHAN BACKS SA

Michael Vaughan has said that South Africa is playing some great cricket in test matches at the moment and it’s not easy to replace them as the no. 1 test team.

South Africa had become the no. 1 team in test matches by defeating England in a 3-match test series last year. They have been at that position since then.

After becoming no. 1, South Africa went to Australia and defeated them by 1-0 in a 3- test match series. Then, they played a home series against Pakistan and white washed them.

When asked how hard it is to displace South Africa from that no. 1 spot, Vaughan said, “It’s very hard. They are playing some incredible cricket at the moment and they are winning not only at their home, but, overseas too.”
“You look at their record and you will see that they have won test matches almost all over the world in the last few years. I think they are too far ahead than the other teams.”

When asked about Alastair Cook’s defensive captaincy being blamed for England’s failure to win the test series in New Zealand, Vaughan said, “Look, my opinion is a little bit different. There is no doubt that Alastair Cook’s captaincy was baffling at times in the series against New Zealand, but, you have to give him time to become a good captain. This was only his second series.”

Vaughan praised the captaincy of Brendon McCullum in that series. The former England captain said, “McCullum was absolutely fantastic as a skipper. He hardly missed a trick. He was very clear in his mind when to be aggressive and when to sit back. I am really impressed with his captaincy.”

ENGLAND ARE FAVOURITES

Michael Vaughan has said that the England team is the clear favourite to win the upcoming Ashes series which is going to start from 10th of July.

The Australian team is currently playing the test series in India and is struggling in that series. The kangaroos have been easily beaten in the first two test matches and they are really looking an unsettled unit.

When asked which team is the favourite to win the Ashes series in England, Vaughan said, “Its England; no doubt about that. The England team is far better in quality than the Australians. The Australians are really going through a very tough time. Their test team is not settled at all. They don’t have batsmen who can fill the void created by the retirement of Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey.”

“Not only in the batting department, they are struggling in the bowling department as well. They don’t have any quality spinner. Nathan Lyon is their main spinner and look how he has performed in the first test match against India. He was bowling on a spin friendly track and in spite of that, he looked ineffective.”

When asked whether he thinks that Michael Clarke is the best batsman in the world, Vaughan said, “There are a few batsmen in the world who are playing some extraordinary cricket at the moment. It’s very tough to pick the best out of them. They are equally good. Michael Clarke is one of those batsmen. Hashim Amla and Alastair Cook are the other ones.”

When asked about the fast bowlers of Australia, Vaughan said, “Australia has got some decent young fast bowlers, but, they don’t have that much experience. I am not sure whether they will be able to soak the pressure of playing in Ashes series.”

VAUGHAN CALLS FOR NEW OPENERS

Michael Vaughan has said that Joe Root should open the batting with Alastair Cook in the upcoming test series against New Zealand.

Root made his debut in test cricket by playing in the fourth test match against India in December last year. Root didn’t open in that test match. He batted at no. 6, but, his performance was brilliant. He scored a half century in his very first test innings.

When asked if he is impressed with how Root batted in his debut test match, Vaughan said, “Yes, It was an impressive knock by the youngster. I like his approach. He was playing his first test match, but, he didn’t look tentative. He was calm and handled the spinners beautifully. He didn’t try to push the ball hard and played with soft hands.”

“When I had seen him bat for the first time, I knew that he would go on to play for England pretty soon. He has not even played too many first class games, but, he has got brilliant temperament. He has also got a good technique and he can handle the quality fast bowlers up front.”

“I think he should be given the opportunity to open the batting with Alastair Cook in the test matches against New Zealand. Nick Compton had been given chances in India, but, he didn’t manage to play even one big knock.”
“I would also like to bring Jonny Bairstow back into the team and would slot him at no. 6. He is also one hell of a talent. Unfortunately, he didn’t get enough chances in the test series against India, but, he deserves a place in the team.”

The test series between England and New Zeeland will start from 6th of March. The first test match will be played at University Oval, Dunedin.

VAUGHAN HAILS COOK

Michael Vaughan has hailed Alastair Cook for his brilliant batting and captaincy in the ongoing test series against India and has said that Cook is one of the greatest test batsmen that England has ever produced.

Vaughan looked pretty impressed with the way Cook has led the team in the series so far. He said, “Cook has had a fantastic start as the test captain. I am very impressed with his captaincy. He has been pro active and has rotated the bowlers brilliantly. His field settings have also been quite impressive in the first three test matches.”

“The most important thing is that he has led from the front. He has shown the way to the other batsmen.”
“The best quality of Alastair Cook is that he is a fantastic guy. He doesn’t have issues with any player in the team. He has got great man management qualities.”

When asked what English batsmen have done differently on this tour, Vaughan said, “I think they have applied themselves brilliantly this time around. They are looking more determined and they have made some adjustments to their technique. They are using their feet against the spinners pretty well.”

When asked whether he had expected England to do well in this series, Vaughan said, “Frankly speaking, I had thought that we would be thrashed in this series and after the Ahmedabad test, I had started thinking that India would win this series by 4-0. But, Alastair Cook’s boys have proved me wrong. They have surprised everyone with their performance in the previous two matches.”

“If we go on to win this series, this would be one of our biggest victories. But, for that, England would have to play well in Nagpur.”

The fourth test match between Indian and England will start from 13th of December at Nagpur.

NO PRESSURE

Michael Vaughan has said that there is not much pressure on the newly appointed England test captain, Alastair Cook, as the England team is not expected to do very well on the India tour.

When asked about his thoughts on the tough first assignment of Alastair Cook as the test captain of England, Vaughan said, “It’s obviously a very tough assignment for a newly appointed captain, but, I think he is not under huge pressure. England has not played well in the subcontinent of late and everyone knows that the English team is not the favourite to win the upcoming series. England is going into this series as underdogs. So, I think Cook is under lesser pressure on this tour.”

“It’s true that Cook is only 27 years old at the moment, but, he is not inexperienced. He has already represented England in more than 80 test matches. He has played under quite a few captains and he knows how to lead the team in test matches. I think he is going to do well in India.”

When asked about the inclusion of Pietersen in the England squad, Vaughan said, “England needed Pietersen badly. He is going to be the trump card of the team on this tour.”

“Pietersen is a game changer. He is the one who can take the attack to the opposition. You need such kind of players in the subcontinent. India has got a couple of quality spinners and you want somebody to attack them. If you keep blocking them, they would settle into a good rhythm and made the run scoring difficult.”

“It’s going to be an interesting battle. India is clearly the favourite team to win the series. But, you never know with this English team. They have got some real match winners.”