England are in it together - Vaughan
Michael Vaughan is confident England’s team unity can carry them to Ashes glory in Australia this winter.
The tourists are bidding to do what no England side has managed since 1986-87.
The following 24 years have seen five touring parties try - and fail - to repeat the feat, and Vaughan himself has experience of suffering at Australian hands on their own soil.
He was part of the side beaten 4-1 in 2002-03 despite his monumental contributions with the bat, but injury prevented him captaining England during the 5-0 whitewash four years later.
Optimism ahead of the first Test in Brisbane, which starts tomorrow, is growing, largely because of England’s fine recent form – they won six series in all forms of the game against Bangladesh and Pakistan this summer and have started this tour well – but also due to Australia’s fall from grace.
Former captain Vaughan, however, looks deeper than mere statistics when he assesses England’s prospects.
“Everything I believe in is happening in the England team,” he told ecb.co.uk.
“It’s the way the team is going about their business. They are playing with a real togetherness; they’ve got great spirit and fight.
“You’ve got people like Matt Prior coming in down the order getting them out of a hole when they need to.
“Again, Eoin Morgan comes into the side at six this summer and in his third match gets a hundred.
“That’s the sign of a good team - when players are coming into the side and adapting straightaway. They feel a part of the side.”
Team director Andy Flower and captain Andrew Strauss can take much of the credit for that, and their attitude towards fostering a healthy environment was illustrated by their organising a squad "development camp" in Germany at the end of the summer.
To Vaughan, who oversaw England’s memorable Ashes triumph on home turf in 2005, the team ethic he valued so highly then is obvious to his eyes now.
“I just look at the players’ faces,” he added. “Do people celebrate each other’s success because they have to, or because they really want to?
“At the minute I look at the team and they all want each other to do really well. They are delighted when anybody does well, even if they haven’t done well themselves.”
Much has been made of the challenges England’s attack – so potent at home – face in conditions which historically offer less assistance to the swing bowlers.
The Kookaburra ball, abrasive pitches, less cloud cover and notoriously unsympathetic crowds are sure to increase the scale of England’s task, but Vaughan insists they are in good shape to cope.
He said: “Of course conditions will be different, but once you have that winning mentality you don’t get scared of conditions.
“It’s more the mental thing of playing in Australia. If Australia go ahead in Australia it’s hard to come back, so we have to get a good start.
“This attack will be stronger than the one we took in 2006-07. Whether it’s stronger than 2005, that’s a big ask at the minute.
“This team is very good - it’s well led by Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower and they’ve got a great chance.
“At the end of the winter we’ll know what real pathway they’re on.”