Lack of plan cost the ashes for Australia: Lara

Australia slumped to their Ashes defeat against England because they didn't plan well enough, star West Indies batsman Brian Lara said. Lara, here to play for the World XI in three one-dayers and a Test match against Australia over the next fortnight, said Ricky Ponting's favourites did not appear to have worked out how to get runs and wickets against the well-marshalled English. "One of the reasons I think that Australia has fallen off the pedestal a bit is the fact they've got 11 match-winners," Lara said. "Somehow they feel that they go out to play and think 'if the openers don't do it, the No. 3 will do it, the No. 4 will do it'. "There never seemed to be like a plan -- I was a bit worried about that. "There has to be a plan, you've got to have a structure in terms of how you're going to get your runs, how you're going to get the opposition out." However, Lara said he does not believe Australian cricket will slide as alarmingly as the once-great West Indies team in the 1990s and should recover quickly after losing their 16-year grip on the Ashes. He said he wished the Caribbean cricket system had the resources available to Australia. "We never put anything into place to ensure there was some sort of longevity with our success," he said. "Australia still has the infrastructure to play good cricket and I don't think their decline is going to be anything close to the West Indies' -- unfortunately for the West Indies, good for Australia. "I see them bouncing back pretty quickly." Lara, waiting for a sponsor's dispute to be resolved before playing with the West Indies again, said the mood among the world players was good. But he admitted it would be difficult to quickly turn the disparate squad into a tightly-knit team. "It's a similar situation with this World XI, the fact that you've picked 14 match-winners, you think at any one point in time, any one player is going to do it," Lara said. "We're playing against the best team in the world and the best players will never beat the best team in the world." England team-mate Kevin Pietersen said he had no doubt the world squad would come together well. "That's, I think, why the blokes are probably the best players in the world, because they can adapt to different situations and fit in and it's fantastic, it's been really, really good," Pietersen said. Pakistan paceman Shoaib Akhtar said he had recovered from a calf muscle injury and declared himself fit for the World XI's matches.