England confidence boosted by energy of new recruits

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The Independent Online

Michael Vaughan joined coach Duncan Fletcher in hailing a youthful revolution ahead of the triangular NatWest Series that starts with England facing Zimbabwe at Trent Bridge tomorrow.

Vaughan, England's one-day captain fresh from a debut series win over Pakistan, praised the energy and enthusiasm England's young players had brought to the 50-overs team.

Fletcher, meanwhile, lent his support to the new Twenty20 Cup, and suggested it might not be long before international matches were played in the ultra-short format. "I believe the Twenty20 will help tremendously in the way players approach one-day cricket, with the emphasis on scoring quickly and on working hard in the field," he said. "You have to remember that people said one-day cricket would never be played at international level so I think there is every chance of seeing the 20-over format adopted as an international game."

For the moment, England's focus is on 50-overs cricket as they prepare to test their burgeoning confidence against Zimbabwe and South Africa, whom Vaughan still rates as the second best one-day side in the world even after a disastrous World Cup on home soil.

"Taking on the likes of Shaun Pollock, Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher is going to be a fantastic experience and a great challenge," he said. "But I have been very impressed by the way the newer members of our one-day squad have reacted. There is a relaxed atmosphere in the dressing room, but a lot of enthusiasm and confidence on the field. I can remember being in similar games to last Sunday's at The Oval when we have lost from the position we were in.

"Although Marcus Trescothick was the match-winner we can take a lot of confidence from the fact that a young lad like Chris Read saw us home in only his third comeback game."

Read, Vikram Solanki, Rikki Clarke and Jim Troughton represent the new face of the England side and all earned Fletcher's praise. "With so many new faces it feels like a watershed," he said. "When there is so much energy and enthusiasm, you want to be involved."

Kabir Ali, who was overlooked for all three matches against Pakistan, will return to Worcestershire today and face South Africa in their final warm-up match before rejoining the squad at Trent Bridge.

The new South African captain Graeme Smith said England posed a big threat to his side, which he described as being in a "rebuilding phase" after failing to qualify for the Super Sixes at this year's World Cup.

Heath Streak, who will lead Zimbabwe, said that a South Africa-England final was "favourite" but warned against taking his side too lightly. "We have had to step back and regroup after the Tests against England, but I hope no one thinks they are going to just walk in and trundle over us," he said.