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Australia v England - 5th Test
Sydney: 2-6 January, 2007

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A Flintoff
Flintoff applauds England's fans after the defeat in Sydney
Andrew Flintoff believes England can bounce back and regain the Ashes in 2009 despite playing poorly this time.

Flintoff, who presided over a rare 5-0 series defeat, said: "I've experienced it from both sides now, the jubilation of 2005 and now the emotion of today.

"We've seen the Australians walking round the ground taking the Ashes back, which they fully deserve.

"But hopefully in 2009 it could be us walking around the ground and acknowledging the crowd."

Flintoff was a stop-gap captain in the absence of the injured Michael Vaughan in Australia.

He did his best to marshall the team, but was criticised for some of his team selections in the early part of the series.

Questions were also raised as to whether he had the power to motivate the players in the way Vaughan has done on previous tours.

Flintoff, who must wait and see if he will lead the side in the one-day series, added: "You look at the side in our dressing room. It's a young side.

"We've got to regroup. Australia have come back better and stronger, almost raised the bar.

"They've played some fantastic cricket over five Test matches.

"But we've got to work on that now. We've got to get better. We've got a lot of cricket between now and 2009 to improve."

Coach Duncan Fletcher denied England had lacked desire.

He suggested the absences of Vaughan, Simon Jones and Marcus Trescothick were crucial factors behind England's inconsistency.

The selection process is fine. It's the second Test series we've lost in 11 or 12 and suddenly it's wrong?

Duncan Fletcher
England coach

He said: "There's been some big losses to this side, huge losses, and it always takes time to fill those gaps.

"When you get young guys coming into a side, they're always inconsistent and that's what happened."

Fletcher defended the team selection process on overseas tours, which led to some controversial decisions in the opening matches.

Monty Panesar and Chris Read were both initially overlooked despite having strong claims to starting berths.

Fletcher and Flintoff were the men to pick the sides, with no input from chairman of selectors David Graveney.

And Fletcher said: "From my point of view, the selection process is fine. It's been successful.

"It's the second Test series we've lost in 11 or 12 and suddenly it's wrong?

"I don't think it has to be changed at this stage but other people feel differently."

606 DEBATE: Will England regain the Ashes in 2009?

Former England chairman of selectors Ray Illingworth had little sympathy for the beleagured tourists and was critical of their preparation.

"They thought they were better than what they were," he said. "They have been brought down to Earth with a bump and got what they deserved."

Illingworth, who captained the victorious Ashes tour of 1970-71, added: "In the batting, for me all Duncan Fletcher seems to coach is the sweep shot. I really think they should do away with it and learn to play the ball straight."

Also coming in for criticism from the Yorkshireman was Steve Harmison, who took 10 wickets at a cost of 61 apiece in the five matches.

"I don't think Harmison has got a big heart," Illingworth said. "Maybe leaving him out once, saying you are not bowling well enough, should have happened."

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