It’s just a start, says jubilant Vaughan

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England’s Ashes win over Australia could be the start of a period of prolonged domination of world cricket, according to victorious skipper Michael Vaughan…

 In the immediate aftermath of the 5th Test draw which sealed England’s 2-1 series victory, everyone associated with English cricket diplomatically stressed that Australia still deserved to be regarded as the world’s best team on the strength of their record over recent years.

But with an average age of 27, England’s Ashes-winning side still have time to get stronger and Vaughan believes the self-belief engendered by this summer’s dramatic contest will accelerate the development of individual players.

"The team we picked was a young team and one which, if we did well this summer, could go on to do great things," Vaughan said.

"Playing in a series like they have done and winning can only be good for them.

"All the players that played in this series will be available next time we go to Australia (at the end of 2006).

"The questions now are can we play well on the subcontinent this winter but most importantly can we play well in Australia in 15 months time?"

Vaughan also revealed the extent to which Australian coach John Buchanan’s public questioning of the merits of England’s top order had helped strengthen resolve in the camp.

 "It has proved a huge motivation to the team, to go out there and – not prove the Australians wrong – but perform at the ultimate," he said.

"Test match cricket cannot get any harder than it has been this summer."

The England’s selectors decision to place their faith in youth, most notably by plumping for Kevin Pietersen over the experienced Graham Thorpe for the first Test, was vindicated when the South African-born batsman hit his side out of trouble on the final day of the fifth and final Test.

"The way he played showed the little bit of genius in him. It was an extraordinary innings," said Vaughan. "He is an incredible talent.

"I actually enjoy the fact he has a life away from cricket: he doesn’t get beaten up by the fact he drops a catch or only gets 20 – to be successful at the top level you have to have that attitude."

While Vaughan looks forward to a bright future, life will become much harder for his opposite number Ricky Ponting and the rest of the Australian team, according to former Test opener Michael Slater.

"Australia haven’t only lost the Ashes this summer, they have finally lost that aura of invincibility and every other Test-playing country will be eager to challenge them now," warned Slater.

"Just about everyone thought the world champions were unbeatable, home or away.

"England have broken the spell, made them look mortal – just as Australia did to the West Indies a decade or so ago."

Slater added: "The rest of the world will have been watching this fantastic series almost as closely as we have and the message doing the rounds today is ‘Hey, these guys really are vulnerable, they can be made to look second best’. That changes so much for Australia."

Despite the gloomy outlook, Slater does not expect wholesale changes to the Australian team and believes Ponting will survive in his current role.

"What can be guaranteed is a serious post-mortem. Make no mistake, this result is going to hurt a lot back home and issues such as the lack of form shown by several players and the fact the squad is an ageing one will be examined closely.

"I think it would be harsh for Ponting to be axed as skipper. If his captaincy has looked a bit below scratch on occasions we must remember that, unlike (England captain Michael) Vaughan, he had bowlers who weren’t able to help him out at times.

"But now is undoubtedly the time to start thinking about the future and I am sure the selectors will look at trying to push some younger guys into the side as and when they can."