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Page last updated at 14:05 GMT, Saturday, 10 January 2009

Waugh fears backlash from England

Steve Waugh
Waugh won nine Ashes series with Australia, two as captain

Former Australia skipper Steve Waugh has warned his country that they should not get too complacent about the current turmoil in English cricket.

England lost skipper Kevin Pietersen and coach Peter Moores this week and Waugh says the crisis may strengthen the team ahead of this summer's Ashes.

"I don't see this issue splitting the side and making them perform poorly," he told

"If anything, it may have the ability to make the team a bit stronger."

The resignation of Pietersen and the sacking of Moores plunged England into chaos just six months before they take on Australia in the Ashes.

And Waugh was critical with how the spat between Pietseren and Moores was played out in public.

"I think they took it too far and possibly the power got to the leader's head because, you know, surely these things can be worked out behind the scenes and it doesn't have to be played out in public," added Waugh.

When you hear the news do you fall over laughing or are you dumbfounded?

Former Australian bowler Geoff Lawson
"My big saying as a captain was 'praise in public and if you're going to criticise, do it in private'.

"But I think players just get on with the job. They're pretty hard nosed and they're pretty thick skinned.

"They're used to a lot of these distractions around the team and now they'll get on with playing cricket and they'll embrace Pietersen as a great, great batsman, which he is and I think it will be pretty soon forgotten.

"Right now it seems a big issue that I think once you get on a cricket field again and you've got a new captain, a new coach and a new and different direction, then players will get on with playing Test match cricket."

The spectacle of such a dispute spilling into the public arena - and causing such high-profile damage - has come at an inopportune time for England.

In two weeks they go on tour to the West Indies, followed by a home series against the same team as preparation for the Ashes.

Australia have just suffered their first home Test series defeat in 16 years, against South Africa, and with the team going through a period of major transition, many people were talking up England's chances in the summer.

Kevin Pietersen (L) and Peter Moores
Pietersen (left) and Moores both left their jobs on Wednesday

"The England situation has come as quite a surprise with our cricket supposedly in decline," former Australian bowler Geoff Lawson told the BBC.

"When you hear the news do you fall over laughing or are you dumbfounded?

"All the talk in the press box during the (South Africa) Test was that Pietersen would get his way - he was the captain, he was taking the team in a good direction, as was a strong, leader so Moores would obviously go.

"So to resign as captain and lose the coach doesn't seem a logical conclusion."

Lawson, a former Pakistan coach, said the choices that England made now would have a big impact on events later in the summer, but he backed the appointment of Strauss as captain for the West Indies trip.

"I think he's probably a good leader and a good captain and he'll have a fine opportunity against a modest West Indies side to get things back on track before the Twenty20 World Cup and then the Ashes," he added.

"Coaches can have a short tenure - you can either have a great effect on the team or modest effect.

"England have a yawning question - do they go for quick appointment or do they take their time?"


While Lawson has yet to make up his mind on how the furore will affect England's chances, former Australian wicketkeeper Ian Healy said it was bad news for Australia.

"Every player in English ranks will get their act together quickly," he said.

"I think the West Indies might see a bit of benefit out of it, but not Australia - I think it'll be a good thing if everyone gets their job right build some sort of team culture and get ready for Australia."

The Australian press have reacted with glee to the news with the Canberra Times taking comfort from the upheaval following Australia's series defeat to South Africa.

"If Australian cricket fans thought Ricky Ponting and his men had pre-Ashes problems, they needed only to watch England's leadership saga descend into farce on Wednesday to feel things may be looking up," said the paper.

"Finally with something to smile about after their team's 103-run victory over South Africa in the third Test in Sydney, Australians could be forgiven for laughing out loud as their traditional foes shot themselves in the foot."

The Melbourne Herald Sun spoke of the 28-year-old's "sensational" decision to call it a day after just over five months in the role.

"English cricket has seen some bloody civil wars but the feud between bull-headed Pietersen and the industrious, unpretentious coach Peter Moores, has been the most vicious for some time," they said.

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see also
Strauss to take on one-day role
09 Jan 09 |  England
Bransgrove points finger at ECB
09 Jan 09 |  Hampshire
Strauss ready to rebuild England
08 Jan 09 |  England
Strauss to lead West Indies tour
07 Jan 09 |  England
Kevin Pietersen career photos
08 Jan 09 |  Cricket
Pietersen named England captain
04 Aug 08 |  England
England discord worries Butcher
06 Jan 09 |  England
Harmison calls for England unity
05 Jan 09 |  England
Gower unsure of Moores future
04 Jan 09 |  Cricket
England in West Indies 2009
29 Dec 08 |  England

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