FORMER captain Michael Vaughan has warned that England’s superiority over Australia is being wildly overstated and predicts that this summer’s Ashes series will be far closer than many anticipate.
Vaughan has himself indulged in mocking the Aussies’ recent struggles, including a Test series whitewash in India, where England earned a landmark victory before Christmas.
But he was impressed by their narrow defeat late last year at home to South Africa, who knocked England off the top of the Test rankings with a series win on these shores just months earlier.
“I think every England fan and ex-player and even the squad has a bit of a chuckle when Australia go through a bit of a bad period, that’s just the nature of competition and the rivalry,” Vaughan told City A.M.
“But I’ll say this: Australia are not as bad as they showed in India. I’ve been watching them a while and against South Africa at home they were excellent. They could have quite easily drawn that series and even won.
“If you match up the two series [England and Australia’s contests with South Africa], you’d say that Australia got a little bit closer. Losing in India is no shame, most teams do that. What England did before Christmas was historic; an amazing achievement. Australia aren’t as bad as we all think they are. I think it’s going to be a very close Ashes series, I really do.”
England’s more immediate concern is next month’s two-Test home series against New Zealand, which Vaughan believes will act as a major audition for places in the side to face Australia in July and August.
“It’s a great opportunity,” added the 2005 Ashes skipper, who appeared in London yesterday as an ambassador for NatWest.
“I don’t think anyone is really nailed on for the Ashes apart from [Alastair] Cook, [Jonathan] Trott, [Ian] Bell and [Kevin] Pietersen. Those two Test matches against New Zealand will not only be a good spectacle but it’s always nice when you’ve got a couple of places to talk about.”
NatWest cricket ambassador Michael Vaughan was officially opening a new NatWest concept branch in Southwark Street, London. The branch has a 24/7 lobby service and is fully automated. Visit NatWest.com for more details.