Tendulkar expects from England

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Sachin Tendulkar

Sachin Tendulkar claims England are capable of "something special" when they meet Australia in this winter's Ashes

India batsman Sachin Tendulkar believes England have every chance of retaining the Ashes in Australia this winter.

Tendulkar, widely regarded as one of the finest players in the history of the game, pointed to the influence of Kevin Pietersen with the bat, Graeme Swann with the ball and Andrew Strauss as captain as he cast his mind forward to the five-Test series starting in December.

He also predicted that Eoin Morgan, who made his Test debut in the recent series win over Bangladesh, will play a key role as England - 2-1 winners over Australia on home soil last summer - chase victory Down Under, the scene of a 5-0 defeat three years ago.

“I think England have a good chance of retaining the Ashes,” said Tendulkar. “The key members for England will be Pietersen, Morgan and, in the bowling department, Swann.

“Swann will play a big role so I think England definitely have a good chance.

“For me they will be the key members of the team. Then after that you have the experience of Andrew Strauss, so they can do something special in Australia.

“From what I have seen of Morgan, he looks a solid player. He can control the pace of the game quite nicely - certainly in T20 and one-day matches.”

Tendulkar was speaking in London at a celebration to mark NatWest’s 30th season supporting English cricket - ahead of the NatWest Series between England and Australia which gets under way next Tuesday.

England head into the five-match series in high spirits, having demonstrated their limited-overs pedigree - albeit in the shortest form of the game - by winning the ICC World Twenty20 in the Caribbean last month.

The momentum gained from that breakthrough success should not be underestimated, according to Tendulkar.

“The winning of a major tournament gives you confidence and this is what winning the ICC T20 World Cup has done for England,” he said.

Mushfiqur Rahim & Eoin Morgan

Eoin Morgan, who made his Test debut against Bangladesh, can expect to play a key role Down Under, according to Tendulkar

“I am sure at this moment England feel as though they can pull off any situation. It’s all about confidence and positive energy and, once you have this, then anything is possible.

“I would not use the word vulnerable to describe Australia. But they have lost some match-winners. They are going to miss those players and it takes time to replace them.”

Tendulkar is currently taking a break from the game to spend time with his family, but will return to play for India against Sri Lanka in the Test series which starts in July.

India are currently ranked the best Test team in the world, but Tendulkar has set his sights on lifting the 2011 World Cup with India, which will be held in the sub-continent. The final will be played in his hometown of Mumbai.

“I want to play for as long as possible and as long as I have the desire and the hunger I will carry on,” the 37-year-old added.

“The day I do not want to get out of bed and do anything then I know it will be time to go in another direction.

“To be number one is special. It was our dream and our target to get to the number one spot in Test cricket.

“We have had a good run in the last 20 months. Everyone wants to be number one and we cannot relax because there are other countries who want to be number one. It means a lot to us.

“As far as the World Cup is concerned, it is a process. We don’t want to jump to the 50th floor; we must start on the ground floor.

“We must take it step-by-step but to get there would be a fascinating journey. It is our dream, not just mine but the entire nation, to get there.

“To play the final in Mumbai is something you can only dream of and everything has to come together.

“But if we can play to the best of our potential then I think we can do something we have been longing to do for quite some time.”

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