Gooch promises no respite for Aussies
England may already have won the NatWest Series against Australia, but batting coach Graham Gooch is not expecting any let-up from Alastair Cook’s side as they seek to seal a 4-0 scoreline at Old Trafford.
England head to Manchester having won nine successive one-day internationals and - even though they cannot now replace Australia as the world’s top-ranked ODI side after last week’s third match of the five-game series was washed out at Edgbaston - will still be desperate for another victory tomorrow, according to Gooch.
He said: "They have to be delighted with 3-0 but there’s one match to go yet and any match against Australia is a special occasion. Certainly I think the players will be looking forward to that game and doing their utmost to make it 4-0.
"It’s always a special thing when Australia visit these shores. They are the big series, whether it’s the Ashes or one-day cricket. There’s a great rivalry between the two sides."
England won the opening game by 15 runs at Lord’s before downing the tourists by six wickets at the Kia Oval.
Cook’s men then clinched the series on Saturday with a commanding eight-wicket triumph at the Emirates Durham ICG.
"I think England have got to be happy with the way they have played; they have been very professional, gone about their work in a very positive way and they have taken their cricket to the Australians and the team have obviously got the results," said Gooch.
“I don’t think they’re looking at 10 victories in a row at all,” he added.
“I just think they’re looking at tomorrow, 2pm start, another big match against Australia - the match that everyone wants to play in.
“It’s the match that every crowd wants to watch, whether it’s in Australia or England. It’s a one-off match - England will want to win it.”
Gooch warms readily to a rousing theme he memorably struck up before the start of the historic 2010/11 Ashes victory in Australia, and one which has extra resonance from the mouth of a former England captain who had his ups and downs in 42 Tests against the old enemy.
“In an international match, everyone wants to perform against Australia - and I’m sure the Australians want to perform against England,” he said.
“It’s a special contest; it’s got history, whether it’s an ODI or not that doesn’t really matter.
“You want to get one over on them, so our guys can be really proud of the way they’ve performed so far.”
Gooch expects Australia, whose off-colour performances have shocked their own coach Mickey Arthur, to dig in with determination for one last stand this summer.
“I don’t think they’re going to let up in this last game,” he added. “They’re going to come hard again tomorrow.
“Australia only play cricket one way - 100%. They’re a very fine side, the top-rated side in the world.
“They’ve got some brilliant cricketers. I admire the way they play their cricket, the way they prepare, the attitude and commitment and competitiveness they show in their cricket.
England will not lack motivation either, of course.
“It’s always satisfying to beat Australia - you can’t lie about that - and I’m sure they feel equally satisfied when they beat England,” said Gooch.
“There’s some people playing now, and some not playing now, who’ve been on the end of a few hidings from Australia.
“I don’t think anyone in our dressing room is gloating. We’re just proud of what they’ve achieved so far in terms of the consistency of the performance - and they want to repeat that tomorrow.”
Gooch senses that the current England team, thanks to the influence of team director Andy Flower, have an extra mettle sometimes missing among their predecessors.
“All through my time as an England player, selector, coach and now again, the side always had the talent to win matches - but lacked consistency,” he added.
“That was the one thing that teams of the past could not grasp.
“The regime that Andy Flower has put in place, and the work ethic he’s instilled in the players and their desire to work at the game, has brought about that consistency of performance - and long may it continue.
“It’s not just a case of how much talent you’ve got; it’s getting the best out of your talent. Certainly, some of the England guys have gone about that in the right way.”
In keeping with management and players on both sides, Gooch is not about to claim this NatWest Series result will have a significant effect on morale before next summer’s Ashes. But one more success will not go amiss either.
“Every time you play Australia you want to win the game, because they are a great cricketing nation,” he said. “They are proud in their cricket, quite rightly so.
“With every victory you can have against Australia, it brings more confidence to your players and your dressing room.”