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Ford: Confidence vital to Test players

FORD FOCUS: Graham Ford
FORD FOCUS: Graham Ford

PEOPLE are saying this Ashes series between England and Australia is the best ever and although that’s pretty hard to ultimately judge it certainly has been a series overflowing with entertainment.

I have chatted to people from other cricketing countries and they are enjoying seeing the Aussies receiving the style of treatment they have meted out to the other nations over the last decade or so.

Sure, Australia have suffered misfortune along the way particularly with the injury to Glenn McGrath, but they have been outplayed since the Lord’s Test and England’s comeback has been nothing short of brilliant.

Some of the England players found the criticism after Lord’s rather hurtful, but they have made those critics - who seem to have forgotten what a great side Australia have been - eat their words.

Thankfully for the England camp both Duncan Fletcher and David Graveney realised the enormity of the task ahead of them this summer and they have stood by their squad, supporting their charges to the full, which in return has instilled a feeling of security and confidence among the squad.

These two have been outstanding in their roles for some time and have undoubtedly helped create a happy and stable camp.

I know from my experiences with South Africa that team selection at this level is no easy task. Panic can set in and the tendency to chop and change creates an insecure group of players who go out to battle with confidence at a low ebb.

Success in cricket, like top commercial businesses, can largely depend on the decision-making of the managers and there’s no doubt in my mind that Fletcher, Vaughan and Graveney have out-performed their Aussie counterparts.

We're now all setfor the show's conclusion at the Oval, which I hope will be another action-packed thriller.

The Aussies are renowned fighters and are a dangerous side with their backs to the wall so England will drop their guard at their peril.

The injury to Simon Jones is s major concern and if the medical team fail to get him ready the selectors face a tough choice of going for another specialist bowler in Chris Tremlett or opting for the all-rounder Paul Collingwood.

As England only need the draw to win back the Ashes, the second option appears the safer and likelier of the two to be made.

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