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Last Updated: Monday, 18 December 2006, 06:25 GMT
Flintoff hails awesome Australia
England captain Andrew Flintoff
Flintoff scored a quickfire 51 on the final day of the third Ashes Test
England captain Andrew Flintoff admitted they lost to the better side after Australia regained the Ashes with a thumping 206-run win in Perth.

After going 3-0 down in the five-match series, Flintoff said: "We played well at times but they never let us take the initiative and always came back hard.

"It's the exact reversal of what we were feeling last September when we won. It just hasn't come off for us.

"It's a disappointing hold of the Ashes but we must keep playing for pride."

Poor selection and preparation have been blamed for England's humiliating defence of the urn, but Flintoff said he felt they had given themselves the best chance of success.

"I don't think we were ill-prepared at all," he added.

We believe we were in the best possible shape... as for selection, it's always judged in hindsight

England coach Duncan Fletcher

"Most of the lads had been in India for a few weeks before this tour and most of them were happy. Australia hit us hard in Brisbane and we couldn't come back from it.

"As for (coach) Duncan Fletcher, all the lads are behind him and it would be nice if the rest of the country was too.

"We're all playing for the team, for the country and for the coach and we must keep doing that.

"We have to play for pride and we want to show we can play in Australia and win a Test match while we are here.

"The lads won't need any motivation when the next Test starts on Boxing Day. It'll be tough, but they all have been so far."

Fletcher said he was not thinking of stepping down from his position despite England's thumping defeat.

"We are halfway through a tour and there is an awful lot of cricket still to be played," said Fletcher.

"I was under pressure in 1999 when we were 2-4 against South Africa in Johannesburg, ever since then I've been under pressure a lot and there have been many ups and downs.

Shane Warne is a magician in his own right

England spinner Monty Panesar

"But there have been more ups and there is a lot of character in this side, they know where they've gone wrong and they will try to put it right.

"It's a very young team of players who are still learning. That's one of the major difference between the sides - Australia are experienced and know when to grab those key moments.

"We believe we were in the best possible shape before the tour. We've played non-stop cricket for nine months and now people are saying we haven't played enough.

"As for selection, it's always judged in hindsight. It's so hard with England as there are so many cricketers, but you can't put losing down to just one thing."

Spinner Monty Panesar, who took eight wickets in the match having been left out for the first two Tests, said personal success was no consolation after losing the Ashes.

606: DEBATE
RN

"It's been an up and down Test for me in my first Ashes match, obviously taking five wickets on day one was nice but it's disappointing to lose the series," said Panesar.

"At the time of the first two Tests they played what they thought was the best XI they had, you have to just back the guys that go out there."

On Australia's Shane Warne, who has now taken 699 Test wickets, Panesar added: "He is a magician in his own right and probably the greatest spinner to play the game.

"Watching his field placings, the pace he puts on the ball, the tactics he uses, for me all of that has been valuable experience as a young spinner in international cricket.

"He always wants to be a part of the game, giving his best and bowling lots of overs and that's exactly what you want to be like."

SEE ALSO
Fletcher position to be reviewed
18 Dec 06 |  England
Boycott voices whitewash concern
18 Dec 06 |  England


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