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A New Challenge For England...

Michael Vaughan

Michael Vaughan and his England team have a new challenge ahead… and one they are not accustomed to. After so much success in 2004, it will be very interesting to see how they bounce back from defeat at the start of the New Year.

On Michael’s own admission, the team have looked a little lack-lustre over the last couple of Tests even though they were unlucky not to win in Durban.

Observers will be fascinated to discover just what re-action the captain gets from his squad as they start preparing for the Johannesburg Test.

I think the batsmen who were looking forward to some days off, may now be staring at some hard work in the nets while the bowlers were not as destructive a unit as we have been accustomed to seeing from the new England.

What coach Duncan Fletcher makes of it all will also be intriguing, particularly after his very public spat with South African captain Graeme Smith over the use of the nets on the second morning of the Cape Town encounter.

What England did not lack in this beautiful corner of the country was support. The Barmy Army and associates were absolutely fantastic and there must have been at least 50 per cent from Britain on the first day. There will be fewer in Johannesburg once the New Year’s revellers return.

Thankully, Freddie Flintoff’s injury scare was not quite as bad as first thought and he should be fit for Johannesburg even if he might not be bowling on all cylinders. His presence, in whatever capacity, is still a huge boost to the side.Whether or not the selectors decide to stick with the same team is open to debate, but it would be unwise to do too much tinkering to a side that went 13 matches unbeaten including eight wins on the bounce.

It has all made for a fascinating end to the series with the games in Johannesburg and Pretoria coming back to back. England have the quality to recover quickly… and if they can find a way to get Jacques Kallis out, they may also discover their old winning ways again.

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