Gough is determined to rekindle England's fire

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Cricket

Darren Gough believes a successful winter in South Africa could be just the spark England need to start making their way up the world ratings.

Overall, England have looked pretty unimpressive in recent years - losing five of their last eight series and beating only New Zealand. But Gough is convinced that when England do perform well, no team in the world can beat them.

"We showed that in Adelaide last winter by defeating Australia and twice against West Indies during the summer just gone," the Yorkshire quick bowler said. "The problem is we are not having enough of those days. We need a good series here to set it alight.

"Everyone in the squad thinks and believes we are in South Africa to win and that we are going to become one of the best teams in the world.

"That is everyone's target. We've got to be strong. A good series here will give everyone in the team confidence."

England are certainly optimistic at the moment, not without some justification, as they start their preparations for the second Test at The Wanderers, which starts on Thursday.

The opening match of the series in Pretoria may have been ruined by rain, but Mike Atherton's side showed encouraging signs in the way they stood up to South Africa's vaunted pace attack.

"If it had been scored on a points system, we would have won the first Test," Gough said. "But now we have to start again and treat the game in Johannesburg as the opening match of the series."

For Gough, it will be even more like setting out afresh. He missed the final three Tests of last summer's series against West Indies because of nagging uncertainties over his fitness and, in Pretoria, he did not get the ball into his hands after rain arrived early on the second evening.

"I was surprised to get back in for the first Test of the winter," Gough admitted. "I was starting from behind after last summer and I thought it would be more like the third Test before I was picked. But the selectors obviously thought I was bowling well in the nets and believe in my talent. I believe in it too."

n Shane Warne has been named in Australia's 13-man squad for the third and final Test against Pakistan at the Sydney Ground, starting on Thursday, only 10 days after breaking a toe. Warne was originally given little chance of playing, but has been given until tomorrow to prove his fitness.

A team doctor, team physiotherapist and a test selector, Steve Bernard, will be present for the fitness test at an official team practice. The Australian Board said in a statement yesterday: "Warne must convince those three people that he is fully fit to play in the Test."

Warne sustained a fracture to his left big toe when he was struck on the boot by a yorker from one of Pakistan's fast bowlers, Waqar Younis, while batting on the first day of the second Test in Hobart. He took no further part in that match and has not played since.

Australia are in command of the three-Test series, leading it 2-0 after crushing victories over the tourists in Brisbane and Hobart.

Pakistan are expected to give a fitness test to Salim Malik, who has not played since the first Test after cutting his hand while fielding.

AUSTRALIAN SQUAD (v Pakistan, third test, Sydney, Thursday): M Taylor (capt), M Slater, D Boon, M Waugh, S Waugh, I Healy, G Blewett, P McIntyre, S Warne, P Reiffel, C McDermott, G McGrath, B Julian.

n Pakistan have named their former captain Javed Miandad in their preliminary 20-man squad for the World Cup.

PAKISTAN SQUAD FOR WORLD CUP: Aamir Sohail, Saeed Anwar, Ramiz Raja, Salim Elahi, Salim Malik, Javed Miandad, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Basit Ali, Ejaz Ahmed, Moin Khan, Rashid Latif, Mushtaq Ahmed, Saqlain Mushtaq, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Aaqib Javed, Mohammad Akram, Ataur Rehman, Kabir Khan, Shahid Anwar.

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