Cricket pundits go to bat for Australia

OPENERS Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer must fire for Australia when the fourth Ashes Test starts at Trent Bridge tonight.

That was the frank assessment from Rockhampton's leading cricket experts yesterday, who also declared world-class all-rounder Andrew Flintoff as the man behind England's Ashes revival.

CQU Tigers captain Steve McDonald said the Australians had to improve in all aspects of play, especially the top-order.

"If it wasn't for Shane Warne, we would be in dire straits,'' McDonald said.

"The openers have to stand up ? they're well overdue.''

Queensland Cricket regional manager for Central Queensland Sean Toovey said the Australian batsmen had to be patient against a confident English bowling attack.

"They need to take their time and not try and score at the same rate as England,''

said Toovey, who praised the inclusion of South Australian firebrand Shaun Tait.

Frenchville's Todd Wells said the key was winning the toss and setting a big total for England to chase.

Wells also warned Australia's batsmen had to combat England's band of swing bowlers, led by Flintoff, to retain the Ashes. "The Poms have outclassed us so far,'' Wells said.

The 2005-06 Rockhampton Cricket Association season starts on October 1.



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