Michael Vaughan is hoping that Thursday's visit to Buckingham Palace, when England's Ashes winning heroes collected their gongs from the Queen, will help the team draw a line under last summer's success and focus on the coming tour of India. Vaughan believes that England's obsession with the Ashes will have a detrimental effect on the performance of his team in the other important series they play prior to next winter's tour of Australia.
England arrived in India this morning to play three Test matches against a team that, with some justification, would consider itself to be the second best in the world. It will be a tough tour for England - India rarely lose at home - and Vaughan's side need to return as victors if they wish to be considered as worthy challengers to Australia, the world champions.
"Thursday was a fantastic day for us, but it would be nice to draw a line through the events of last summer," admitted the England captain prior to his departure. "We have great memories of it, and we can draw on the confidence we gained from beating Australia, but it is now time to look forward to 2006 and the tour of India. We managed to focus on other series before the Ashes, when everyone was looking forward to it, and we need to concentrate on what happens now, not what took place last summer or what may take place next winter."
Those who watched England's 2-0 pre-Christmas defeat in Pakistan would have been aware that the emotional and physical fatigue caused by the unforgettable Ashes series affected the team. Vaughan's squad worked as hard as ever off the field but were unable to play with the same intensity on it. Injury and a couple of crazy sessions with the bat played a part in the result but coming to terms with what they had just achieved was a bigger distraction.
England will have taken encouragement from India's recent loss in Pakistan and will have noted their vulnerability against high quality fast bowling. In the defeat in Karachi India lost 17 wickets to Pakistan's pace attack, and Vaughan will be looking for his quartet of fast bowlers to cause similar problems to a batting line-up that is considered by many to be the best in the world.
"India, as a team, are right up there, especially at home," said Vaughan. "They have a record which proves that. Cricket does not get any tougher than facing their spinners on a dusty track in Bombay. They may have lost a series in Pakistan but they will be a tough nut to crack. We will have to be at our best, and we will have to play some very good cricket to beat them. But no team enjoys being put under pressure and if we can do that to them we can create winning opportunities.
"We will see what pitches we play on before deciding on the exact make-up of our attack but it has been our seamers that have brought us success. There is obviously the possibility of us playing two spinners but we will want to play the five bowlers that we feel will get us 20 wickets.
"And in the last two years our best bowlers have been the seamers. There may be times when we have to play containing cricket, but we have an attacking bunch of bowlers and I would rather use them in this way than any other."
The tour heralds the start of a ridiculously hectic schedule for England. If Vaughan's side are successful it will get no more than eight weeks rest during the next 14 months, a period in which they will play 15 Test matches and up to 45 one-day internationals. It is a workload that will test the fitness and fibre of Vaughan's squad and heighten the chance of injury or burnout. This has not been lost on the England captain, who intends to periodically rest key players prior to next winter's Ashes and the 2007 World Cup.
"The schedule is not ideal, but that is what has been put in front of us," said Vaughan. "First and foremost we want to win games of cricket and then, if we get ahead of the game we can start getting a bit clever but [if we are to keep players fresh] we will have to do what most teams in the world are now doing, and that is rotating people in one-day cricket."Reuse content