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Iím surprised Vaughan isnít leading the World XI: Woolmer
- England will start favourites in Pakistan, says the home coach
Bob Woolmer

Calcutta: Once enough champagne has been downed, Englandís focus is going to shift to the tour of Pakistan ' featuring three Tests and five ODIs ' which begins late next month. Home team coach Bob Woolmer (a member of the 1977 England side which won the Ashes 3-0 under Mike Brearley), though, is already into overdrive ' he has even recorded the number of catches (six) put down by Kevin Pietersen! Currently in Rawalpindi, Woolmer spoke to The Telegraph for around half-an-hour over the telephone on Wednesday afternoon.

The following are excerpts

 

On whether the Ashes result changes his planning for the series against England

Not at all' More than anything else, I plan for my team' The opposition comes into the picture, yes, but I focus on my players.

On who will start as favourites

England' Theyíve been terrific over the past 18 months or so in the longer version and are on a roll. Unfortunately, my boys havenít consistently played good Test cricket. The very best weíve done, in my tenure, is winning in Bangalore six months ago.

On whether he expected England to win back the Ashes after 16 years

No' However, I felt proud when England did win (on Monday)' Australia came out strongly in the last Test, but let go opportunities to draw level. First, when England were allowed to recover from 131 for four on the first day and, then, when Ricky Ponting and the rest didnít get to 600 despite being 264 for one. All credit to England, though.

On whether England have beaten the strongest side ever

Certainly one of the greatest' Perhaps, the West Indies under Clive Lloyd in the early Eighties were stronger.

On what made the difference for England

Sheer doggedness, just hanging in there' Attention to detail, planning' The playersí skills as well. (After a pause) The high level of fitness, too, played a big part. For example, it was as late as the last Test that an injury kept a key bowler ' Simon Jones ' out of the XI' Not long ago, England had flair and ability, but often struggled with fitness.

On the turning point

Englandís three-wicket win at Trent Bridge (fourth Test)' The result suggests the match was close, but England actually won comfortably.

On what cost Australia dear

Over-confidence' They talked of a 5-0 scoreline and stuff like that' My view is that you first deliver and, then, talk. (Again, after a pause) Glenn McGrathís fitness also impacted heavily.

On coach Duncan Fletcherís contribution

Enormous' He took charge after the 1999 World Cup when English cricket was at rock-bottom' He forged an excellent partnership with (Nasser) Hussain ' under whom Englandís Renaissance began ' and, in recent years, Michael Vaughan. Do remember a coach is only as good as his captain' Fletcher, I think, was instrumental in getting the ECB to award central contracts and that helped create the right environment' Fletcherís known to be a good man-manager and enjoys the confidence of his employers. Even when the results werenít satisfactory, the ECB stood by him. Thatís important.

On whether the England versus Pakistan clash is going to be fought at two levels ' the countries and between him and Fletcher

(Laughs) I hope the Media doesnít project it as a face-off between the coaches' That, after all, will be unfair on the players. No matter what a coach does, the players execute plans and the credit has to go to them. Weíre the backroom boys!

On where he would rank Fletcher among contemporary coaches

Forget rating somebody in my own business, I donít like putting numbers on anybody' Fletcher, however, is at the top with the Bobby Simpsons' For me, Simpson is the father of cricket coaching.

On Vaughanís captaincy

I donít need to emphasise heís among the very best' His field placements and bowling changes are impressive' Heís particular about everything and looks a leader. Obviously, he has the respect of his team. Iím surprised he isnít leading the World XI in next monthís Super Series. I would have picked him as captain and, then, selected the other 12.

On Andrew Flintoff, Englandís Man of the Series

Heís taken time to establish himself' Early on, itís possible Flintoff himself didnít realise just how good he was' Moreover, today, heís much fitter' As with everything else in life, thereís a time for special moments' Flintoffís coincided perfectly with Englandís ambitions.

Finally, on the Australiansí worry over lining up replacements for McGrath and Shane Warne

(Laughs again) Well, nobody is ever going to be good enough to slip into their shoes. Some simply canít be replaced.

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