Former England Chief Selector David Graveney says England must keep the low on confidence Australia side on the ropes during the forthcoming Ashes series.
Speaking exclusively to Lords.org, the former England Chairman of Selectors likened Australia captain Ricky Ponting’s situation to that of Andrew Flintoff’s ahead of the 2006-07 Ashes.
Four years ago England were struggling for form, fitness and results - going on to lose the Ashes series 5-0 to a rampant Australia.
Going into this series the Australians last won an international match in July - the first MCC Spirit of Cricket Test against Pakistan at Lord’s.
Their miserable form has continued in their current series against Sri Lanka, most recently throwing away a winning position to lose the opening One Day International by one wicket.
Graveney, now ECB Performance Manager, sees some parallels with England in 2006, but warned the tourists of the difficulties faced in winning Down Under.
He said: "Australia are having plenty of problems.
"They’re experiencing spells without winning games and also not winning games which they should - which is even more of a worry for them.
"They’ve played two matches against Sri Lanka and managed to lose a game that they had won, which is very English-like from past years.
"They also have a number of players who are coming back from injury which is not dissimilar to our situation four years ago where we had a number of issues and had to make some close calls.
"The likes of [Doug] Bollinger and Ryan Harris, who are very capable bowlers, will be short of match practice.
"Their confidence is quite low and we need to make sure that we don’t give them a chance to increase it.
"They haven’t won a game for a long time and winning is a good habit.
"I’d say this is the best possible chance we’ve had since when Mike Gatting won out there [in 1986/7] but it’s unnecessary. Beating Australia in Australia is always going to be difficult."
Stand by your players
Graveney is a former Gloucestershire captain and England selector of 11 years, with his tenure ending in 2008.
He played down the importance of the selector’s role however, after Merv Hughes was removed from the Australian panel to make room for Greg Chappell.
"Selection panels change from time to time and once Greg Chappell was there then was going to be a shrinking and someone had to go." added Graveney.
"Every selector has a lifespan but though they have a role to play, it’s not a massive role.
"Australia’s policy has always been to stick by their players and so if they start changing then I’d be surprised.
"They do have an issue around spin, because there are some problems for Nathan Hauritz at the moment.
"Spinners normally come back from India with their confidence dented and in international cricket these days there is not much time to go away and get some time to have some match practice and confidence."