Former bowler says there’s no danger of Ashes complacency
INDIVIDUAL bids for greatness are the driving force behind England’s determination to inflict an historic 5-0 Ashes whitewash on Australia, according to former Test bowler Darren Gough.
The hosts are daring to dream of the unprecedented series scoreline after cantering to victory in the second Test at Lord’s on Sunday, while former Australia paceman Glenn McGrath admits the tourists have hit rock bottom.
Such ease might invite complacency among the England ranks, but Gough believes they are hungry to hammer home their superiority and reach a few personal milestones in the process.
“You’ve got Jimmy Anderson trying to break Beefy’s record [Sir Ian Botham’s 383 Test wickets for England]; Graeme Swann trying to reach 300 Test wickets; Alastair Cook trying to get hundred after hundred, so that nobody will catch him ever; Pietersen trying to get 10,000 runs that he keeps telling everyone he wants to get; and you’ve got a coach in Andy Flower who is very driven,” Gough told City A.M.
“I can assure you there’ll be no complacency in this England team. They’ll be wanting 5-0 now.”
Gough admits baulking at predictions of a whitewash before the series got underway, and even now finds the possibility difficult to countenance, despite his gushing praise for the current England squad.
The former Yorkshire captain, who took 229 wickets in 58 Tests before retiring in 2008 and is now an outspoken broadcaster, calls Swann “arguably the best spinner in the world”, believes Anderson is pushing South Africa’s Dale Steyn “all the way” to be cricket’s top bowler, predicts Stuart Broad will reach 350 wickets and admires both Steven Finn and Tim Bresnan.
He is equally complimentary about the batsmen, despite the modest contributions of Cook and Pietersen in the first two Tests, even if Australia have not yet forced them to rise to any sort of challenge.
“It’s a very, very good team. The problem is you can’t judge how good they are because this Australian side is so poor,” Gough added.
“But it would be an amazing, amazing scoreline if they beat them 5-0. I can’t see it happening, I really can’t, but if Australia carry on like they are and England keep having two or three players every Test match who stand up, they’ve got an amazing chance, because they’re better in all departments.
“I never thought it [the whitewash] could happen. Coming into the series I thought Australia had a battling side. Their bowling attack is strong but they’ve been below par; with the bat, they’ve been the worst they could ever be.
“The possibility is there if they carry on playing like they are, but surely they can’t – can they?”
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■ Taylor handed chance to earn England recall ahead of third Ashes Test
NOTTINGHAMSHIRE batsman James Taylor will be given the chance to impress England’s selectors when he turns out for Sussex in their three-day tour match against Australia, which starts on Friday. The 23-year-old, who played twice for England against South Africa last summer, has been earmarked as a potential replacement for Kevin Pietersen, should he fail to recover from a calf injury before next week’s third Ashes Test at Old Trafford. Taylor said: “I’m not back in the Test side yet, but I’m pleased to be a step closer to it and I’ve always dealt with situations like this by concentrating on the game in hand and refusing to look too far ahead.”