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England thrive on pack-instinct
- Aussies surprised we’ve come at them with pace: Fletcher

Fast bowlers are reckoned to hunt in pairs but this summer England have stalked their prey as a quartet. They have been able to put Australia under relentless pressure with complementary skills. Little wonder that Duncan Fletcher, the coach, is so keen for Simon Jones to recover for the fifth npower Test at The Oval.

Publicly, Fletcher is not confident that Jones will be fit enough to feature, despite intensive treatment on his injured right ankle between now and next Thursday. However, the magnitude of the match is leading Australia towards the firm belief that Jones will take his place in an unchanged side.

Stephen Harmison, Matthew Hoggard, Andrew Flintoff and Jones have shared the burden through the series. They have bowled between 98 and 160 overs each, taken between 12 and 19 wickets and average between 21 and 31.33. In contrast, Brett Lee has carried the Australia pace attack in the absence of Glenn McGrath.

The only comparable situation since Fletcher took charge six years ago came in 2000, when Darren Gough, Andrew Caddick, Dominic Cork and Craig White together helped England to beat the West Indies for the first time since 1969. But that attack, with its disparate personalities, was not as explosive and soon fragmented.

“Previously we have only really had two bowlers at a time,” Fletcher said. “Now Simon adds that back-up with Flintoff. With those two as first and second change we suddenly have depth and that is enabling us to maintain the pressure. Simon has become very, very vital to our attack.

“At the start of the series we sat down and came up with our plan, but you then need the bowlers to carry it out. In Test cricket if a batsman has a weakness you cannot just bowl a ball or two and expect to get them out. It takes discipline. These guys can put the ball in the areas we ask them to over a long period of time.

“I wouldn’t say we’ve psyched out their batsmen. They are probably surprised that we have been able to come at them with pace.

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