| Hussain: ‘Most difficult tour till date’
Sydney: England captain Nasser Hussain believes his side is capable of overcoming an 11-match losing streak against Australia when the triangular one-day series best-of-three finals start in Sydney on Thursday.
World Cup champions Australia, who will defend their title in southern Africa next month, have won seven of eight matches in the triangular series against England and Sri Lanka for 38 points, ahead of England on 20 and Sri Lanka on 14.
“I think both sides know that England can beat Australia in one-day cricket on a given day,” Hussain told a news conference on Wednesday. “Our record isn’t very good against them recently but let’s be fair. Look at what injuries have done to Australia, because we’ve been plagued by them.
“If we can put all parts of our game together we can beat Australia, definitely.”
England lost the Ashes series 4-1 and suffered a string of injuries to bowlers Darren Gough, Andrew Flintoff, Stephen Harmison, Simon Jones and spinner Ashley Giles while leading batsman Graham Thorpe was unavailable for personal reasons. Giles is expected to return to the side on Thursday after overcoming a wrist injury.
“It’s been a long, hard tour, definitely the most difficult tour I’ve undertaken,” said Hussain, a 34-year-old veteran of 81 Tests. “It’s really tested the character of all the players. There has been some fantastic cricket played.
“When we’ve played well we’ve got support and when we haven’t, we’ve got stick and deservedly so.”
Hussain said the World Cup was providing plenty of motivation. “I’m a little bit mentally jaded but these are big games now,” he said. “It would be a boost, beating Australia out here but obviously how we go into the World Cup is more important.”
Meanwhile, Australia’s opening batsman Adam Gilchrist says he has saved a big score for the tri-series finals.
His best scores in the six matches he played against England and Sri Lanka have been 124 and 53 with an average of 35.83.
“(I’m) saving them up, saving them for the big ones,” Gilchrist said on Wednesday. “Don’t waste them in the preliminary games. That’s what I’m hoping anyway.”
The Australia vice-captain said the home side had been impressive in winning seven of their eight preliminary round matches with good performances from fringe players like spinner Brad Hogg and all-rounder Shane Watson.
However, Australia beat England by just seven runs in Hobart on January 11 and four wickets in Adelaide eight days later.
“If you look at our past two games, they have been much closer affairs than the first two games we played,” Gilchrist said. “With that in mind obviously they’re showing some improvement. We’ve definitely shown some improvement with names like Hogg and Watson, they’ve stepped up.
“If we’re improving and they’re getting closer that must mean they’re on the way up to so we’ll expect a tough encounter.”