The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Last tough series was vs India: Steve

Perth: Australia captain Steve Waugh said Sunday his joy at retaining the Ashes was slightly tempered by England’s poor performance.

Waugh told a news conference that while he was thrilled to wrap up the series at the earliest opportunity, he was disappointed the English hadn’t put up a better fight.

“I don’t want to sound big headed about it but some of the victories have been a little bit easy,” Waugh said.

“Some of the recent series have felt a bit hollow I must admit.

“We’d like to come up against a side that would really get stuck in and play tough Test match cricket and make it really tough to win.

“India was the last tough one we played in and even though we lost, it was fantastic to be part of it and we felt very satisfied.”

With the Ashes now decided, Waugh said the only thing left for his team was to try and complete a 5-0 series clean sweep. Although the Australians have won the last eight Ashes series, the only time they have completed a 5-0 whitewash was in 1920-21.

“I think we’ve got to have something to motivate us and that certainly would be a nice thought,” Waugh said.

“There’s no reason why we can’t win the last two Tests. It’s obviously going to be tough for England to come back.”

“To win it so convincingly after losing three tosses is a pretty impressive performance by the side,” he added.

“At this stage it’s been a pretty one-sided contest but you’ve got to put it in context.”

“Last season South Africa came here and everyone said they were ready to beat us and we were ready to be taken down but in the first five Tests we beat them as convincingly as we’ve done here so I think this is an exceptional side.”

Asked about his own future, the 37-year-old said he had not made up his mind when he would retire but this would be his last Ashes.

Australian media have speculated Waugh might announce his retirement after the fifth Ashes Test in Sydney but Waugh said he wanted to play on.

“The ultimate goal in the back of my mind is winning in India but that’s a long way off — it’s 18 months away,” he said.

“If there is one thing that would entice me to keep playing, it is to win in the subcontinent but that may be out of my grasp.

“But I don’t want to consume myself with the thought of retiring. I want to go out and enjoy my cricket and at the moment I’m doing that.”

Meanwhile, Nasser Hussain said he would not quit as England captain even after the thrashing.

Hussain said it was tempting to stand down after another heavy defeat but he owed it to his team mates to continue in the job.

“One thing I’m not going to do is walk away from this team in their present bruised and battered state and give it to some young lad and say ‘here you take them out there’,” Hussain said.

“It would be good for Nasser Hussain, I’d just concentrate on my batting and it would be the easiest thing for me to do, but I will not take that option against that lot.”

Hussain conceded that England had been comprehensively outplayed by the Australians and there were no excuses for the way his team had performed.

“It’s disappointing how much we’ve let people down and we’ve let ourselves down,” Hussain said.

“We were building up a decent side and a decent record and in the last two months everything has been taken away from us by a great Australian side and by our own inadequacies and the injury situation, which has just been unbelievable.”

Hussain said England’s three massive defeats had once again exposed the enormous gulf between the teams and he said England would have to review the whole way they organise and play cricket if they ever wanted to beat them in the future.

“When you play against any other side in the world you can always get by because there’s always a release of pressure but against this side there’s no release of pressure,” he said.

“In English County cricket and other Test cricket there’s always freebie runs and freebie wickets but you just don’t get that out here.

“I’ll quite happily say we’ve let ourselves down but you’ve got to ask the question that if we’re ever going to compete with Australia, how we are going to do it, what do we do wrong in our cricket at home, in our lifestyle, the whole thing.

“If we want to win the Ashes back we have to real good luck at everything, not just the top 10 or 15 players. You can’t just put the blame on County cricket, it’s a lot deeper than that.”

Hussain said the manner of England’s defeat would be deeply felt by their supporters. “It’s still very important to people so they will be crushed and that’s what’s very disappointing.

Hussain also added that Brett Lee was not to blame for the bouncer that floored Alex Tudor. He defended Lee saying it was not right on the part of the English supporters to boo him.

“I was disappointed with the crowd, I thought that was poor and showed no knowledge of cricket,” Hussain said. “It’s a man’s game out there and I think Brett Lee’s great for cricket, the way he comes running in.”

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