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Page last updated at 15:29 GMT, Monday, 10 November 2008

England greats predict tough tour

Graham Thorpe and Alec Stewart
Thorpe and Stewart played together for Surrey and England

Former England batsmen Graham Thorpe and Alec Stewart have predicted England will face a hard tour in India.

Thorpe told BBC London 94.9: "India's a different challenge because of the conditions there, the fanatical crowds and a lot of travelling."

Ex-England and Surrey captain Stewart said: "It's probably the toughest place to play outside Australia.

"In India you've got a quality side, completely different playing conditions and lifestyle conditions."

Both of the batsmen toured India and know what England will be up against but they have seen reason to be optimistic after the victorious one-day series against South Africa.

England start their seven-game one-day series in India in Indore on Friday and Stewart rates the current side highly.

"I always said that the 1992 World Cup-losing side was the best side I played in but this squad looks the best since then - for all-round balance, for the style that they play and they've also got a game plan.

"The boys look settled within that team, they know what responsibility they have, both as individuals and as team members, and it proved in the way they beat South Africa."

Stewart's former Surrey colleague Thorpe is in agreement.

"We'd seen probably England's best performances in terms of results and how the public was looking at this one-day side, probably the best we were playing since England were last in a World Cup final which is going back 20 years."

And both are looking forward to seeing how Kevin Pietersen shapes up as captain on one of the trickiest tours in sport.

"You always see what the captain is made of in adversity. There's going to be tough days on this tour. When [Sachin] Tendulkar, [Virender] Sehwag, [Rahul] Dravid are smacking us everywhere how does he get the best out of his players, how do they respond to him?," Stewart asked.

Thorpe says a good start is crucial: "You need resilience, steel and you really need to have a clear game plan.

"Kevin Pietersen will have learned a lot from the Antigua experience but the start is very important.

"Often the first two one-day internationals when you're playing seven are crucial. If you can get your confidence up you can do great things."

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see also
Flintoff ton sets up England win
09 Nov 08 |  England
England in India 2008
14 Jul 08 |  Cricket
India beat Aussies to win series
10 Nov 08 |  Cricket

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