Vaughan: We'll raise our game
Michael Vaughan claims Saturday’s showdown with Australia will bring out the best in England as they attempt to put down a marker for this winter’s Ashes series.
Sunday’s disappointing four-wicket defeat in their opening match of the ICC Champions Trophy in Jaipur left England needing to win their final two games against Australia and West Indies to retain an interest in the tournament.
But Vaughan believes the chance to renew their long-standing rivalry with Australia can lift England to a new level of performance as they attempt to claim a psychological advantage prior to the start of the Ashes next month.
“When you lose a game like that, the key to it is how you bounce back,” said Vaughan, who is in the middle of an intense rehabilitation programme following an operation on his left knee in mid-summer.
“There’s no bigger game than Australia and that’s probably the sort of game you need.
“We know exactly how Australia will play - they’ll play an aggressive game and it should set up our players nicely.
“I know it’s only one-day cricket rather than the Ashes, but we do want to get one up on them, so Saturday is a big game.”
Saturday’s match is just the start of what will be an intense build-up to the first Test at Brisbane on November 23.
Australia have already begun to try and unsettle England, with Glenn McGrath - as he did prior to the 2005 series - predicting a 5-0 series success.
But Vaughan is confident England have the ability to withstand that intensity and remain competitive with Australia on their home soil, something they have not done since Mike Gatting’s side won the 1986-87 series.
“I think we’ve got a good chance in the Ashes but a lot will depend on how we start - if we get off to a good start in Brisbane then I believe we’ve got a great chance,” said Vaughan.
“I think our squad is good enough to go over there and retain the Ashes and, if we do that, without a doubt it will be a bigger achievement than winning them in England last year.
“Playing at home is a totally different game because it’s a familiar environment and you can pop home between Tests, but abroad you’re always in hotels and the tour bus.
“The challenge is there and the Ashes will come down to how well we cope with the pressure.
“If we can cope with that, enjoy our cricket and express ourselves, then there is no reason why we can’t succeed.”
Vaughan also is concerned Australia will have learned from their shock Ashes defeat in 2005 and are unlikely to allow England the opportunity to bounce back as they did then when they lost the first Test at Lord’s but won the series 2-1.
“You have to consider whether Australia will let us back into the series like they did after Lord’s last summer and I’m not sure they will,” he admitted.
“I think they’ll have learned a hell of a lot from going 1-0 up and allowing us back into it last time around.
“The first day of every Test is always crucial against Australia and I always think you have to finish a little bit ahead of them on day one because they tend to come back very well at you.”
He added: “When you play Australia you have to take all your opportunities. If you win the toss and it’s a good pitch you have to make best use of that first day.
“If you’re in the field and the ball starts to swing you have to make the most of that hour. You have to take wickets in that period.
“I remember Andrew Strauss’ flying one-handed catch at Trent Bridge and that could have been the difference in that game because we only won it by three wickets.
“Those little things count so much. Against good teams you generally have to take the chances you get first time around because they don’t give you too many.”