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  Friday, 6 December, 2002, 12:24 GMT
Irani promises England fightback
Irani collects a boundary in Sydney
Irani took the attack to the New South Wales bowlers
All-rounder Ronnie Irani promised that England would be "sweating blood" in the forthcoming VB Series to try and take something positive out of the tour to Australia.

The squad has been rejuvenated following heavy defeats in the first three Ashes Tests by the arrival of a number of one-day specialists, including Irani.

But the scale of their task against Australia and Sri Lanka was underlined by an eight-wicket defeat in their first warm-up game against New South Wales.

Irani is keen to stay at number three in the batting order after top scoring with 81 and is relishing the challenge ahead.

"I'll bat anywhere for England - I'll do whatever I can to stay in that side. If I do bat three, I'll be up for it," he told BBC Sport.

"It's nice to be given the responsibility, especially against a world-class bowling outfit with McGrath, Brett Lee - MacGill, as well, is no mug. I enjoyed it."

Irani has played 19 one-day internationals and has his sights set on securing a place in the World Cup squad.

Waugh hit three sixes off Irani's bowling
Steve Waugh ended the game with a six

"Every game is important for me. I just want to improve as a player and make sure I'm performing at the highest level," he said.

"Guys have got to look to improve every time we go out and play, every time we got and practice.

"To succeed (for the team), you've got to improve as an individual because if you don't you're going to get left behind."

Michael Slater was the match-winner for New South Wales with an innings of 115 - only the second one-day hundred of his career.

"I under-achieved for a few seasons and it was simply just trying too hard. I felt the need to score quicker in the one-day format than I did in the longer version of the game, which was really taking me out of the natural way I play.

"Today it was more a case of playing as I would in a four-dayer or a Test match and I was 30 or 40 before I knew it, and it was just through playing good cricket shots.

"It's funny how at 32 you're still learning in this game."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Sport's Peter Baxter
"England have much work to do"
England all-rounder Ronnie Irani
"I've taken a lot out of this game"
NSW batsman Michael Slater
"I've under-achieved for a few seasons"
England take on Australia and Sri Lanka

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