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   Tuesday, 14 January, 2003, 12:06 GMT
Waugh: Ashes over before first ball
Australia celebrate Nasser Hussain's wicket
Australia sealed the Ashes in three one--sided Tests
England ruined their own chances of Ashes success before the Test series had even started.

That is the view of triumphant skipper Steve Waugh, whose Australians sealed the series in three one-sided Tests.

England made a better fist of a close-fought fourth Test in Melbourne before finishing the Ashes on a high with victory in Sydney.

Waugh admitted England were hurt by injuries but said picking a number of players under fitness clouds smacked of desperation.

Steve Waugh
Waugh basks in the glare of Ashes success

"Little incidents made us feel like we had the early initiative," Waugh said.

"There is no doubt England were hit by injuries, most notably the loss of its main strike bowler and gee-up man Darren Gough, although I was surprised to see him picked to start with.

"To me, that sent out negative vibes - it was an act of desperation."

Waugh, whose future is still up in the air, said he felt the fact England went into the first Test without a tour win was detrimental to their confidence.

"A win in Perth, when they dominated the opening first-class match, would have been great, but instead it was a draw due to lack of time and the chance to ignite the winning habit was lost."


Many England players were quoted in the local press praising the talents of the Aussie team - a practice Waugh said he would never tolerate in his dressing room.

"Most articles written by the English players were overly complimentary about us.

"It may have been heartfelt, but I certainly wouldn't want my team giving the opposition a rap before the first ball has been bowled.

"If you bowl you must have faith in your bowlers to knock over the opposition and set attacking fields

Steve Waugh

"Once you start to stack these incidents together, the scene is set and the tempo and flow of the series is determined."

The icing on the cake, according to the 37-year-old, was Nasser Hussain's insertion of Australia when he won the toss in Brisbane.

Waugh said he too would have bowled, but felt the England's captain's decision was one motivated by fear.

"To me, Hussain's choice meant England didn't want to expose their batting and thought bowling was the safe option," said Waugh, whose team racked up 364 runs for the loss of two wickets on day one.

Simon Jones is congratulated after taking his only Ashes wicket
Waugh rates Jones as "quick and intimidating"

"I had in mind to bowl, but I was looking to bowl the opposition out by tea.

"England looked happy to contain us."

But Waugh said England had cause to be positive, singling out bowlers Simon Jones, Steve Harmison and James Anderson as bright prospects for the future.

"Selectors must back them through good times and bad and say: 'You are the future - we want you to lead the way'.

"Steve Harmison is an obvious talent and to support him is Simon Jones, who looked the goods before that shocking injury in Brisbane.

"James Anderson is quick enough with the promise of getting quicker."

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