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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 August, 2004, 18:53 GMT 19:53 UK
New look England can win Ashes
Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent at The Oval

Twenty years ago on this very ground, West Indies whitewashed England in the most comprehensive fashion.

Vaughan and Fletcher with the Wisden trophy
England's management refuse to rest on their laurels
The wheel has now turned full circle, and on Saturday Michael Vaughan's team returned the compliment.

For those of us who were playing in that 1984 Test, this was a poignant moment.

I remember trudging out to bat for the last rites - they were not long delayed!

I must admit, though, that I did not expect such a dramatic role reversal as we have seen this summer.

England are a very good team. It is interesting that none of the players, or indeed the coach Duncan Fletcher, would speculate about how they would fare against Australia right now.

Duncan Fletcher is the sort of coach West Indies urgently need to turn to in order to instil discipline
"It's a long way away", was all they said, wary I am sure of making big statements that could blow up in their faces next summer, but there is no harm in those of us in the media doing it for them.

If England can play as well as they did in this match against Australia next summer, they will have a real chance of winning the Ashes.

The reason I can say that with a measure of confidence is that the catching in this game was absolutely outstanding.

Marcus Trescothick, Andrew Flintoff, Ian Bell and Robert Key took chances that make the difference between winning and losing Test matches.

And they are sort of catches that will have to be held if England are to defeat Australia.

Typically, Fletcher was not satisfied and pointed to three chances he felt went astray.

Edwards, Lara, Baugh
Lara (centre) has emphasised his commitment
The former Zimbabwe captain is an absolute perfectionist, who is unfailingly loyal to his team but is also never one to rest on his laurels.

He is the sort of coach West Indies urgently need to turn to in order to instil discipline and introduce training and fielding drills that will help them to drag themselves from the floor.

At least, following the Champions Trophy, there is a long break from Test cricket in which time that decision - and that of the captaincy - can be resolved.

Brian Lara spoke emotionally after the match, emphasising his absolute commitment to West Indies' cricket.

He accepted, though, that this might have been his last Test appearance in this country.

"When I come back in five years", he told me, "I will sit beside you in the commentary box, and be 100% behind my team."

That was a direct attack on Viv Richards, Michael Holding and Ian Bishop - guest commentators in the media boxes this summer who have all been critical of his captaincy.

When he returns to Trinidad for a short break next week, I suspect Lara will discover the question of his leadership will be the major talking point in the Caribbean.




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