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'Australian infighting is helping England'

October 10, 2006 11:04 IST

Internal squabbles are hurting Australia ahead of next month's Ashes series, according to former England captain Mike Gatting.

"They seem to have a lot of infighting at the moment," Gatting told reporters on Monday.

"Former skipper Kim Hughes has said Shane Warne should never captain Australia for the way he has behaved in the past. Then you've got someone like ex-batsman Greg Ritchie saying Warne should be captain instead of Ricky Ponting."

Gatting, speaking at Lord's during the launch of the three-month tour Down Under by the original Ashes urn, said infighting is rare among Australians.

"That doesn't often happen over there. They are normally a pretty tight unit," he said. "It is usually the Aussies having a go at us for things we've done badly.

"But I think we've done things well, we're a good unit and the guys have now got to go over there and show that."

Gatting, the last England captain to win an Ashes series in Australia in 1986-87, said the visitors look the more settled of the two sides ahead of the first Test in Brisbane which starts on November 23.

"I am not sure Australia know who their fourth bowler is going to be," said the former Middlesex batsman. "They've always had Jason Gillespie and Michael Kasprowicz to come in and join Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee and Warne.

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"They are talking about people like Shaun Tait, Mitchell Johnson and Nathan Bracken so they are really in a quandary. For the first time they really haven't got a settled side."

England begin their ICC Champions Trophy campaign against India in Jaipur on Sunday.

Gatting said a good performance in the tournament by Andrew Flintoff's team would be ideal preparation for the Ashes series.

"Our side is far more settled than Australia provided it is injury free," said the former captain.

"We might go for four bowlers ourselves with the likes of Steve Harmison, Matthew Hoggard, Flintoff and Monty Panesar."

Gatting said the selectors would be foolish to pick fit-again spinner Ashley Giles for the first Test ahead of Panesar.

"He [Panesar] has got to play," said Gatting. "He is a fine bowler and Australia are worried about him.

"As much as I love Ashley, this guy has come in and got wickets on a regular basis against the best players in the world. It would be mad to leave him out of the first Test, even Ashley would agree with that."

 

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