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Gatting salutes shrewd England

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Mike Gatting says there are plenty of similarities between Andrew Strauss’ Ashes heroes and his side of 1987.

Gatting was the last Englishman to return from a tour of Australia with the urn before Strauss led his side to an unassailable 2-1 lead with an innings victory in Melbourne.

And the former Middlesex batsman insists he is delighted to pass on the mantle, and urged England to complete a series victory in Sydney.

“The fact is we had quite a few warm-up games [in 1986-87], we didn’t quite play as well as Andrew Strauss’ team did in the warm-up games but we certainly fielded very well, the bowlers kept their discipline, and when the batters got in they got big runs and I think if you look back on the series you’ll see that it was a team effort as well,” Gatting, who led his side to a 3-1 victory margin - something Strauss can emulate with victory in the fifth Test at the SCG - told the ecb podcast.

“It’s not been any particular one person, it was everybody contributing and when they did slip up unfortunately, they got taken to task at Perth.

Mike Gatting & Gladstone Small

Skipper Mike Gatting and fast bowler Gladstone Small celebrate winning the Ashes Down Under back in 1986/87

“But they bounced straight back and really handed out a real good drubbing in Melbourne.”

One of the heroes of Gatting’s triumphant team was left-handed opener Chris Broad, and Gatting hailed the England selectors for showing faith in Alastair Cook, who has repaid them with 577 runs at an average of 115.

“Alastair [Cook] was probably one of the guys people were a little bit worried about coming in the series but played on two pretty good wickets and he’s got a great head on his shoulders,” added Gatting. “That can make up for a lot of little things that might not be right.

“When he gets in he really does make a pig of himself which is great - for a captain to have someone like that in the side is a great bonus.”

And as was the case 24 years ago, England seem to have got the key selection issues spot on. In 1986/97, it was Gladstone Small, who took seven wickets and the winning catch in the decisive fourth Test.

“There’s a bit of role reversal at the moment in the fact that certainly England have been the more disciplined side, certainly the more steady, and as I say when people have come in they’ve done a great job,” said Gatting. “Chris Tremlett and the picking of Bresnan at Melbourne was a very shrewd tactical piece of work.

“Mine was slightly less shrewd as for fact that Graeme Dilley got injured so I had to pick Gladstone [Small], but he’s gone in there and proved what a very able cricketer he is at that level.

“When you win it breeds confidence. The fact that when people have come in they’ve felt at home and performed is a great credit to both Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower.”

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