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England stronger than last Ashes: Warne

By Adrian Warren 24/10/2006 06:57:23 PM Comments (0)

Shane Warne says spinner Monty Panesar and wicketkeeper Chris Read will make England a stronger side than the one which vanquished Australia last year.

England regained the Ashes with a 2-1 series win on home soil, but for the upcoming series will be without injured captain and batsman Michael Vaughan and paceman Simon Jones, while all rounder Andrew Flintoff and spinner Ashley Giles are short on match play.

Warne said teams in Australia needed their spinners and wicketkeepers to perform well and felt England was stronger now because it had beefed up in both areas.

"They've got Monty Panesar, who I believe is the best spinner in England," Warne said.

"He actually spins the ball, he's taken five (wickets) for and won them games, so they've improved their spin bowling department. Nothing against Ashley Giles, I think he's done his role exceptionally well for England.

"But now you've got a guy who takes wickets and he's someone you have to deal with. You have to combat his spin bowling, he's got the flight, he's got spin, he's a dangerous bowler.

"The wicket keeping is another area in Australia when you are playing here that is very important with the bounce and the carry.

"Somewhere like Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, where the ball does get through for the quicks, and the bounce, then you need your keeper holding onto those catches.

"I think (Geraint) Jones has done OK for England, but Chris Read is the best keeper in England."

Going by his own experience, Warne felt Flintoff might find it tough resuming bowling after a lengthy layoff.

"I know in my surgery with my shoulders between 1998 and 2001 I struggled for a while to try and do the things I wanted to do, it was frustrating, I couldn't do what I wanted to do, so it can take a while," Warne said.

The champion leg spinner expected Flintoff and Australian bowling ace Glenn McGrath, who has also bowled little of late, to both be firing by the first Test.

"I wouldn't be writing Glenn McGrath off, he's a champion and I think Australia need Glenn McGrath," Warne said.

"He needs a bit of bowling. One day cricket, it's hard to get into that rhythm when you bowl two overs, you bowl four overs, you might come back at the end and bowl three overs, so it's quite hard for him to get into a rhythm.

"I'm sure the more he bowls, the better he'll get."

Warne attributed Australia's outstanding Test form since the Ashes series loss to a more ruthless attitude, even away from the ground.

"In the nets it's very hard to simulate match conditions but we tried as hard as we can, we upped the ante in the nets," Warne said.

Entering his 16th season of international cricket, Test cricket's all-time leading wicket taker wasn't ready to reveal a potential retirement date.

"I'm enjoying myself at the moment, so if I can stay fit and injury free and continue to enjoy myself and bowl and bat and catch OK, then who knows how long I'll play for," Warne said.

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