Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Vaughan Fired by Ashes 'Warm-Up'; (1) Going through His Paces: Michael Vaughan Bowling in the Indoor Nets at Lord's Today (2) Running Riot: Andrew Strauss (Main Picture) Has a Good Record against the Pacy South Africans, Andrew Flintoff (Left) Joins Up with the Squad Today and Stuart Broad Proves He Can Punch His Weigh

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Vaughan Fired by Ashes 'Warm-Up'; (1) Going through His Paces: Michael Vaughan Bowling in the Indoor Nets at Lord's Today (2) Running Riot: Andrew Strauss (Main Picture) Has a Good Record against the Pacy South Africans, Andrew Flintoff (Left) Joins Up with the Squad Today and Stuart Broad Proves He Can Punch His Weigh

Article excerpt

Byline: David Lloyd

ENGLAND captain Michael Vaughan believes his side are about to face anAshes-style examination that will show whether they are on track to tackleAustralia next year.

Andrew Flintoff joined Vaughan's men during today's indoor practice session ata wet Lord's, sending out another reminder he will soon be back to bolster aside that have won four matches out of five against New Zealand without him.

But, come the morning, Vaughan will lead out an unchanged team for a recordsixth consecutive Test, insisting he has bags of faith in them making lifetough for favourites South Africa at the start of the summer's second npowerseries.

"A series against South Africa is nearly up there with the Ashes," saidVaughan.

"We obviously don't have the little urn to play for but it's always a reallybig series for the guys; always a hard-fought contest, very tough.

"The players in my side are very excited about coming up against this challengeand over the next five weeks we are going to find out whether we have developedinto a good Test team." Unlike New Zealand, South Africa have a red-hot paceattack and a batting line-up stuffed with experience. And, also unlike theKiwis, they are unbeaten in their last seven series, a run which has taken themto No 2 in the world rankings behind Australia.

"They have had a wonderful year," said Vaughan. "They have a good blend ofexperience and youth and obviously they are a different proposition in terms oftheir bowling attack. That will be a big threat to our batsmen while their toporder includes people who have scored a lot of Test runs.

"But I'm quietly confident with the way we swing the balland it should swing with these conditionsthat we can put them under a lot of pressure. We got better in the NZ seriesand started to pay some decent stuff.

"We know will have to continue in a similar vein but I think it's a series wecan win.

"We've got to play well this week and try to get off to a good start. But weare at home and I think conditions can favour the style of bowlers we have.

"We are developing into a skilful Test but we are all going to be tested overthe next few weeks." Flintoff would have been back in the team against NewZealand but for a side strain. But now his return seems imminent and clearlyVaughan is looking forward to that moment.

"We want him back in the team," said the captain. "He's not far away and he'shere with us, just to get his foot in." The Second Test perhaps? "It could be,"said Vaughan. "I guess it depends how he goes this week [a championship matchfor Lancashire against Hampshire].

Hopefully, he will have a good game, we'll have a good game and the selectorswill have a tough decision." Flintoff 's presence at Lord's today will makebatsmen Ian Bell and Paul Collingwood feel under even more pressure, assuminghe is ready to return as an allrounder. …

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