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Vaughan: Tempo must be high

Investec Test Series
Michael Vaughan

England captain Michael Vaughan has warned his players that they cannot allow their performance levels to drop at the Oval © Getty Images

England enter next week’s Ashes decider against Australia with captain Michael Vaughan warning his vibrant and dynamic side of the dangers of allowing their levels of performance to drop.

Vaughan and his England team are on the brink of making history at the Oval next week, knowing anything but defeat in the final npower Test will ensure an historic first Ashes success since 1987.

They have dominated the last three Tests at Edgbaston, Old Trafford and Trent Bridge with their aggressive tactics to such an extent that Australia’s once great line-up appears ripe for the taking.

But Vaughan is determined complacency will not creep into England’s preparation for their biggest match in decades and will warn his side to beware an Australian outfit still capable of mounting a last attempt to retain the Ashes.

Andrew Flintoff

England have maintained a high level of intensity throughout © Getty Images

“It’s difficult to say how far we’ve come or if we can play better because we have played so well,” admitted Vaughan.

“We’re very happy with the level of our performance that we’ve put in, but we realise we can’t afford to drop from that.”

With that in mind, Vaughan and England’s selectors will be desperate for Simon Jones to recover from the right ankle problem he sustained during last week’s thrilling three-wicket fourth Test victory in Nottingham.

Jones has been receiving regular oxygen tank treatment, which is supposed to speed up recovery, in a desperate attempt to retain his place in England’s unchanged line-up for the eagerly-awaited finale.

The Glamorgan seamer has contributed 18 wickets to the series so far and has provided useful variation to the different bowling styles provided by all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, Matthew Hoggard and Steve Harmison.

Chris Tremlett

Chris Tremlett's name has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Simon Jones

Should he fail to recover in time, however, England’s selectors intend to leave their deliberations until later, by which time they will have received a medical bulletin and monitored the big match temperament of Chris Tremlett.

The Hampshire seamer was selected for Saturday’s C&G Trophy final against Warwickshire at Lord’s and the selectors will study his display before making any final decisions about the make-up of the squad, which will be announced on Sunday morning.

The selectors’ other alternatives ahead of Sunday’s squad announcement are to call-up all-rounder Paul Collingwood, who scored a century for Durham this week, or consider a possible recall for Andrew Caddick two years after his last Test appearance.

“The way we’ve gone about our cricket is by having five bowlers and a varied bowling attack,” explained Vaughan.

“We need those options when we play good teams, but who is to say we will not change that at the Oval - we’ll have to look at the conditions and see who is bowling well and who we can bring in.”

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