Yardy salutes rounded England
Michael Yardy is confident England have “all bases covered” in one-day cricket but warns they must keep it that way to complete a 5-0 whitewash of Australia.
Andrew Strauss' side go into the fourth NatWest Series match at the Brit Oval tomorrow with a 3-0 lead and the trophy secured.
They very nearly slipped up with a collapse of six wickets for 18 runs at Old Trafford on Sunday - but, with that behind them, Strauss has publicly targeted a whitewash for the first time.
Yardy was more guarded on that score today, but insists the team's belief in their limited-overs abilities remains as high as ever.
“We have all bases covered, whether batting or bowling, plenty of options and also in the fielding,” he said.
“There’s been a big emphasis on the fielding – we proved that in the World Twenty20 and we’re proving it now.
“We’re learning. The England team has learned a lot over the last 12 months in one-day cricket - how we want to play it and how to move things forward.”
Progress has been startling since England lost 6-1 to Australia in the corresponding series last September.
An impressive ICC Champions Trophy campaign was followed up by series wins in South Africa and Bangladesh, before their World Twenty20 success topped things off.
Whitewashing the old enemy would take English cricket to rarefied new heights, but Yardy warns he and his team-mates must not get ahead of themselves.
“Australia still have their big players like (Ricky) Ponting, (Mike) Hussey and (Shane) Watson - and, bowling-wise, they still have pace.
“They are a top-quality international team - we regard them as the best team in the world - so it’s a massive achievement to be 3-0 ahead.”
Yardy, whose spin alliance with Graeme Swann has been a feature of England’s success, has no doubt England have all the elements in place to beat the best.
They are likely to name an unchanged team again tomorrow, but the Sussex left-armer knows a 5-0 triumph will not come easily, albeit against opponents who have failed to play to their potential, particularly with the bat, so far this summer.
“We’re playing good cricket. No matter what level you play, having plenty of bowling options makes a huge difference,” said Yardy. “The main focus is 4-0. You can’t win two games in a day.
“So try to get the momentum early tomorrow, keep it and get the right result. You don’t need to worry about 5-0 until you’ve got 4-0.
“Australia will be hurting, and I’m sure they will come hard at us in the last two games.
“We’ve had three very good games, and it’s important to keep the momentum and confidence going and not look too far ahead.
“It’s been a great series win but I don’t think we’re finished. We’re trying to keep improving as a team, and there are areas we can improve.”
Much has been made of the new brand of "fearless" cricket under the guidance of Strauss and team director Andy Flower.
All-rounder Yardy was not involved until his surprise Twenty20 call-up two months ago, but the ethos of backing one another is rubbing off already.
“I don’t worry about getting in trouble if I get out,” he said. “I play the way I play. Of course, I get disappointed if I get out - so you play with a certain amount of caution and responsibility.
“First and foremost, you look yourself in the mirror. You put your hand up if you make a mistake. It’s your career and you answer to yourself.
“But there isn’t that feeling that if you mess up you will be hung out to dry.”