Reaction to England's Ashes triumph

Wednesday 29 December 2010 12:00

England need to maintain their focus to ensure they emerge from the final Ashes Test in Sydney as series victors, Angus Fraser said today.

The tourists' victory by an innings and 157 runs in Melbourne means they have already retained the little urn, but Fraser, who played in five Ashes series without playing on the winning side, says Andy Flower's side must not let up ahead of the final rubber at the SCG.

"The big thing is to win the series over there," said the Middlesex director of cricket and former England bowler.

"But, as there seems to be such emphasis on each game, for example England won by an innings in Adelaide and then lost by 267 runs in Perth, you wonder can you maintain that level of discipline and desire throughout a series? The challenge for England is to make sure there is no hangover after this as they go to Sydney.

"To win in Australia is what he (England captain Andrew Strauss) will want to do as he will want to join the captains who have won down there. It's a case of allowing the players a couple of days off New Year's Eve and then on January 2 get their minds focused on producing another five days of good cricket.

"Winning in Australia makes legends of you as it does not happen very often, and I'm sure Strauss wants to be seen in that company and the players want to be talked about in the same way as Mike Gatting's side."

Fraser also paid tribute to the captain-coach combination of Strauss and Flower, praising their preparations for the series.

"Australia is a tough place to play cricket, they have excellent cricketers and conditions are not similar to what you get at home," he told Sky Sports News.

"They have a tough mentality and they play ruthless cricket, although this Australia side has not played particularly well, but it's been a brilliant performance by England. It's a real triumph for Strauss and Flower who have put a great deal of time, thought and effort into getting what they wanted.

"England are moving forward under them, there seems to be a real purpose to everything they do and the players they are working with are improving as cricketers."

Former England coach David Lloyd also heaped praise on former Zimbabwe batsman Flower, who has transformed England since taking charge in the wake of last year's disastrous Test series defeat in the West Indies.

Lloyd told Sky Sports News: "He (Flower) is very important, he is so impressive and distances himself from the team. When he is interviewed he calls the players by their surnames and keeps that distance from them.

"While he says it is nice for Strauss to congratulate the coaching and backroom staff, he also points out it is the 11 players who go out there on the field."

Lloyd also believes there is plenty of scope for England to improve and challenge South Africa and India, the two sides above them in the world Test rankings.

"I think this team can go a long way," he continued. "The key players are quite young, they are well led by Strauss and Anderson is the leader of the bowling attack and is still in his 20s.

"They expected to win here, they are looking to win in Sydney and then they will then turn their attentions to next summer (when India will tour England)."

England batting coach Graham Gooch hailed the impact of Yorkshire's Tim Bresnan, who came into the side for the fourth Test and took four crucial wickets in the second innings.

The former opener told BBC Radio Five Live: "Everyone can be proud of their performances, but they won't think it's over yet. They will want to finish Australia off and win the series, that was the aim at the start of the tour.

"I found it ironic that Tim Bresnan, one of the future stars for England in my opinion, came in like Gladstone Small did in 1986/87 at Melbourne and delivered the winning performance."

Gooch also highlighted the miserable batting form of Ricky Ponting as a key factor in England's success, believing the Australia captain's argument with umpire Aleem Dar on day two in Melbourne showed the pressure he was under.

"His histrionics with the umpire show pressure gets to you when your side are not playing well. The captain takes all the stick when you are not playing well.

"We talked about targeting Ponting as captain, and if you undermine him and his performance you undermine Australia.

"He is an iconic player, one of the best of the last decade and a half and that's been a major factor in England retaining the Ashes. They have to go to Sydney and keep that up.

"I think Ponting will play on as Australia don't have many other options. I imagine their side will be very similar in Sydney and they may just bring the spinner (Michael Beer) in for Ryan Harris."

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