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Wednesday, 27 October, 1999, 08:24 GMT
New-look England jet off
The England new-boys get set for their South African adventure

England's cricketers have departed on their tour of southern Africa, as they bid to shake off the tag of the "worst team in Test cricket".

The series defeat by New Zealand last summer left England rock bottom of the Wisden international league table.

But captain Nasser Hussain is determined to revive an ailing side and bring a sense of national pride back to the game.

With coach Duncan Fletcher taking charge for the first time, the tour party has a different complexion to the group of players who left for Australia 12 months ago.

Gone is ebullient former coach David Lloyd, while last year's captain, Alec Stewart, is once again reduced to the ranks of the foot soldiers.

New faces

Hussain, Fletcher and chairman of selectors David Graveney have brought in a number of young, inexperienced players for the five-match series against South Africa.

Captain Nasser Hussain contemplates the task ahead
And the skipper has urged the quartet of uncapped squad members - Michael Vaughan, Gavin Hamilton, Graeme Swann and Chris Adams - to take their chance by cementing a regular place in the Test team.

Hussain said: "If you look at the last person to make the step up to international cricket on their debut, it was Graham Thorpe in 1993.

"We'll be looking and urging the players that have come into the squad to take their chance now.

"I will be telling all of them that they have not achieved their aims yet and this is just the start of their career.

"I want them to approach it in that manner and think of this as the beginning of a long time in international cricket."

Equal footing

Hussain sees each game as a "must win" - despite a selection policy which professes to look to the future - and he does not want there to be a difference between the senior members of the touring party and the new additions.

"We are all on the same level as far as I'm concerned," added Hussain.

"The whole party has to show that they can perform and I go into every game with the aim of winning.

"Yes, we have made selections which are looking at the future and you have to do that but I do not see a difference between the younger players and the old fogies like myself.

"If we can come back from this tour with three or four of the new players having made a name for themselves then it will be successful but we are travelling out with the aim of winning this series."

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See also:
19 Oct 99 |  England on Tour
Tour itinerary
18 Oct 99 |  England on Tour
South Africa player profiles
19 Oct 99 |  England on Tour
The new faces of English cricket
18 Oct 99 |  England on Tour
England player profiles
18 Oct 99 |  England on Tour
1995-96: England throw it away
18 Oct 99 |  England on Tour
'Think tank' role for Atherton and Stewart

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