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Graveney's credit for Vaughan and Fletcher

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David Graveney

David Graveney is full of praise for England's captain and coach © Getty Images

David Graveney has paid tribute to the inspirational qualities of England's management team as they prepare for their biggest match in decades.

Just six weeks ago England went away from the opening Ashes Test at Lord's having suffered a 239-run defeat, with man-of-the-match Glenn McGrath predicting Australia could complete a 5-0 whitewash.

But England responded by dominating the next three Tests and victory last week at Trent Bridge has earned them a crucial 2-1 series advantage as they prepare for the decisive final Test at The Oval starting this week.

Duncan Fletcher/Michael Vaughan

Michael Vaughan and Duncan Fletcher contemplate a first Ashes victory since 1987

It has been one of the most stunning comebacks in recent history and chairman of selectors Graveney believes the credit for England's comeback should be given to coach Duncan Fletcher and captain Michael Vaughan and their ability to lift the players in the aftermath of Lord's.

"Looking back to Lord's, I can't speak highly enough of the way Michael and Duncan spoke to the players,'' said Graveney.

"It was the same group of players that came out with such a positive frame of mind for Edgbaston and they have played cricket like that ever since.''

Should England avoid defeat over the five days at The Oval, they will win the Ashes for the first time since 1986-87 and end the longest run of Tests without holding the famous urn, having gone 43 matches in Australia's possession.

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Before they can begin thinking about that level of success, however, they must first overcome the pressure of expectation as a whole nation urges them on to end Australia's dominance.

Both Fletcher and Vaughan will no doubt attempt to prepare for this week's match as they have all the other Tests in this series, but Graveney admitted this week's meeting with Australia is no ordinary contest.

"This next Test is a huge game,'' he conceded. "There's no point in saying it's just another game because it isn't.

"It's a huge match for cricket in this country and I am sure Michael and Duncan will get the lads perfectly prepared. I am sure we will play in the same manner as we have for the last three Tests, which has caused Australia plenty of problems.''

He added: "It's an unusual situation for Australia. They are used to winning and they expect to win. I think the way we have played as a collective unit will have surprised them, but they will come out fighting, as we will do on Thursday.''

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