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Page last updated at 09:39 GMT, Sunday, 9 August 2009 10:39 UK

England should not panic - Hayden

Matthew Hayden (right) and Phil Hughes
Hayden (right) has been in England to follow the current Ashes series

England should ignore any media criticism and pick the same team for the final Ashes Test, says former Australia opener Matthew Hayden.

With Australia set to win the fourth Test within three days, there are calls for England to make changes for the likely series decider at the Oval.

"My view is everyone's overreacting," Hayden told BBC 5 live's Sportsweek.

"I think some of the comments bandied around have been nothing short of embarrassing."

England slumped to 102 all out in the fourth Test at Headingley and then bowled poorly as Australia amassed 445, before the hosts suffered another batting collapse in the second innings on Saturday.

Should Australia seal victory as expected on Sunday it will leave the series tied at 1-1, meaning England will have to win the fifth Test, which gets under way at The Oval on 20 August, to regain the Ashes.

Ravi's a young guy and I think he will be one of England's best batsmen, he's just having a tough time at the minute

Rob Key

The start of the final day's play was in part overshadowed by the publication by the Telegraph of a so-called 'dossier' produced by former Australia opener Justin Langer, written before the first Test, in which he highlighted weaknesses in the England team.

"Obviously with (coach) Tim Nielsen and (captain Ricky) Ponting, I've still got some pretty close attachments with the (Australia) team, and they were some observations I made about how I thought England would play leading into this important Ashes series," he told BBC Test Match Special.

"I don't think there's anything too scathing in there - they're just views I thought might be of some interest to the Australian team leading into the series."

Asked about his assertion that English players lack self-belief and "retreat very quickly", Langer said: "I wouldn't have written it if I didn't believe it."

Despite that, former opener partner Hayden said debates about whether certain England players should be dropped for the final Test were "ludcrous".

He said: "This is a country that not more than a week-and-a-half ago was dominating an Ashes series.

"I'm Australian and I love our position in the game but it always makes me sick as an athlete to see other very good athletes getting criticised the way that they are.

"I think this is ludicrous, this discussion about everyone getting dropped. I said exactly the same thing about the Australian side as well - there's no need to panic in these situations."

Ravi Bopara is under particular pressure for his place having failed to make more than 35 in seven innings so far in the series, with Ian Bell and Paul Collingwood also struggling for form in the middle order.

The continuing doubt over all-rounder Andrew Flintoff's fitness is another question for the England selectors to ponder.

Kent's Rob Key is among those widely touted as an alternative to Bopara, with former England captain Alec Stewart suggesting a one-off return for 39-year-old Mark Ramprakash.


But Key told Sportsweek: "I do think Ravi Bopara has been very unlucky, he's a fine player and I think there's a return on an investment to be had on someone like Ravi.

"He's a young guy and I think he will be one of England's best batsmen, he's just having a tough time at the minute.

"And I wouldn't be afraid to put him down the order a little bit, maybe someone like Collingwood go in at number three and let Ravi go a bit lower down."

Hayden believes that England must keep faith with the side that has taken them to an Ashes decider.

"You'd have to take into account who's fit, but I'd leave the side unchanged," said Hayden. "I think this side has gelled well, it would show a great sign of faith.

"Ravi Bopara's dismissal yesterday was a very, very poor decision - he absolutely smashed it. To me you've got to have sense in these times - England have got no reason to panic."

And ex-England captain Mike Gatting agreed, saying: "There has been talk about Mark Ramprakash coming in and other people but the guys are there, they've got to do the job. There's one Test match to go and they've got to take on the responsibility."

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see also
England playing for pride - Broad
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Dismal England face heavy defeat
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Australia in England 2009
20 Sep 09 |  England

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