It's better late than never for England - Darren Gough
Former England fast-bowler, Darren Gough, is pleased with the way England have approached their game in the ongoing One-Day International series against New Zealand, even though he reckons it has come six months too late.
Playing a new brand of cricket, England have managed to go past 300 in every game of the series, with players like Joe Root and Eoin Morgan leading the team from the front.
Speaking to Cricket World, Gough while expressing regret at the fact that England have found form only after the World Cup, he maintained that Morgan’s men will have to keep up the good work to succeed against top teams in international cricket.
Gough was also in awe of the abundance of batting talent England currently possess as he singled out Morgan, Root and Buttler for their style of play.
“It has been brilliant to watch as a spectator to see England at last catch up with the rest of the world and realize this is what you have to do if you have to compete at the highest stage," he said.
“It is a shame it has come six months too late, but better late than never. The players selected for this squad are what a lot of players were saying should have been selected for the World Cup.
“It has been great to watch. It has been a great blend. Hales and Roy are not yet firing as a pair but they have given us some terrific starts and set the tone for everyone to follow.
“We have Morgan back to his best, when he plays like this he is as good as anyone. Joe Root is as stylish as any player in the world.
“We have Buttler, who is as exciting as anyone one in the world – that is including players like (AB) de Villiers, (Brendon) McCullum and (Chris) Gayle. It has got everything on the batting front.”
Gough feels that England should work on fine-tuning their bowling attack, as they prepare a squad with the next World Cup in their sights.
Apart from the basic issues related to line and length, Gough earmarked death overs bowling as England’s major issue currently.
“On the bowling, I think it still needs a bit of fine tuning. It needs a little bit of work done.
“Especially bowling at the end, we still seem to be not getting that right. But that will come as we keep improving and we don’t fall behind every other team before the next World Cup.
“We have to keep moving forward and we have to keep looking for new players who might come into this side.”
While England have performed admirably in the series so far, Gough stated that the absence and retirement of key players have affected New Zealand who have looked a pale shadow of the team that reached the World Cup final earlier this year.
“We have to remember that this New Zealand side is not the same side that finished runners up in the World Cup.
"(Daniel) Vettori, the best left arm spinner is gone. (Tim) Southee was injured and now (Trent) Boult is injured. They are missing (Corey) Anderson, one of the most exciting all-rounders and a big player for New Zealand.
“They are missing (Adam) Milne too. Their batting is exciting. Their bowling has little changes.
“That’s when you notice a side, you need to get a balance on the bowling right and you need to get into a rhythm. Both sides really have not quite hit the strides running with the ball.”
England’s next assignment is the much-anticipated Ashes series – which they have won three consecutive times at home in 2005, 2009 and 2013.
However, the last Ashes series which was held in Australia ended in disaster for Alastair Cook’s men as they were whitewashed 5-0 by the hosts.
Commenting on the upcoming series, which starts next month, Gough opined that the Australians hold the upper hand heading into the tournament, although England’s chances cannot be totally ruled out.
However, Gough opined that England can turn it around riding on the confidence gained from the performances in the ongoing ODI against New Zealand.
“I think we will win a Test match, we might even win two. I just think Australia are too much in all the departments unfortunately,” Gough said.
“It (the performance against New Zealand) can get England on a roll and then everyone is full of confidence and belief, it might just carry England through, you don’t know.”
Analysing the bowling strength of two teams, Gough feels that Australia are clearly the more potent looking attack when compared to England’s inexperienced line-up.
“If you were to say on paper, Australia have everything. They’ve got (Ryan) Harris back. I’d say they probably are going to use him in three out of five test matches. We know he’s had injury problems.”
England have tried out new bowlers like Mark Wood in the Test series against New Zealand whereas they named Mark Footitt in the preliminary Ashes squad.
While he expressed surprise at the call-up of the Overton twins for the ODI series, Gough compared Mark Wood with himself while terming him as a promising player.
“It looks like England are now going on that route (giving chances to new bowlers).
“They picked the Overtons for the One-Dayers which has been a surprise for a few because Craig has not played in any of the T20 games this year and Jaime has gone 10-an-over for the 12 overs he’s bowled.
“They have been the surprise picks for the One-Day squad. The Test squad is slightly different.
“I think Footitt deserves his chance in the preliminary Ashes squad. I think he’ll be the one to come in if there is an injury. He bowls a heavy ball."
Among the new pacers, Gough heaped praises Wood, who has impressed everybody with his bowling both in the Test series and ODI series.
“I am really excited about (Mark) Wood. He reminds me of myself a little bit the way he bowls – skiddy, he likes to bowl full and likes the odd bouncer. So, he is a very exciting prospect.”
Gough expressed his concern over Stuart Broad and James Anderson, who were not up to the mark in the Test series against New Zealand.
With a formidable opponent against them, England will need the duo at their very best to have a chance of winning according to Gough.
“Only concern I’ve got is with Broad and Anderson, who have to be at their best for that attack to work.
“(Ben) Stokes and Wood, the way they bowl is very inexperienced. They might take wickets but they go for lots of runs.
“So you have to be very careful with what sort of attack you put together for it to work in a test match.
“You need Broad and Anderson at their best, which they weren’t in the New Zealand series.
While, there has been a lot of talk on including leg-spinner Adil Rashid into the XI as a gamble for the Ashes, Gough isn’t in favour of the move.
Gough, who captained Rashid for Yorkshire, felt that the spinner was not adept at taking the top-order wickets in a regular fashion, which was another of his concerns.
“In the spinning department, Rashid is very good at getting tail-enders out, but he doesn’t get top order batsman out that much. So, that is a bit of a concern also.”
England captain, Alastair Cook, has been on a good run of form this year, scoring 577 runs in five matches at an average of 64.11 with two hundreds and four fifties.
Praising Cook for his ability to score big while dubbing him essential to England’s batting line-up, Gough expected the Australians to target the England skipper.
Gough pointed out the improvement in Cook’s approach to the game, while he went on to predict a good series for the England opener with the bat.
“Well, he (Cook) is going to be targeted. It is kind of obvious. He’s a good player. “I think England can play around Alastair Cook.
“I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves as a player. If he drops anchor, if he gets in, he gets a big one. I think he will be targeted very much so.
“His technique and his position at the crease is as good as I have seen him in the last couple of years in the series against West Indies and New Zealand.
“He’s leaving the ball a lot better. His head is really still. I think he will have a good series.”
Darren Gough is taking part in the Investec Ashes 2015 Cycle Challenge to raise funds for the Lord's Taverners. The challenge takes place between 12 and 15 July 2015 and will cover over 300 miles between the famous 2005 Ashes venues, finishing at the Kia Oval. Support him and his team: www.lordstaverners.org/ashescycle
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