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Former captain Gatting puts England Ashes win down to preparation

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Gatting on English Ashes triumph
  • Former captain Mike Gatting says England's Ashes success was down to preparation
  • England won the final Ashes Test on Friday by an innings and 83 runs to win the series 3-1
  • Gatting captained England the last time they won a series Down Under in 1986
  • Australian press lament the sorry performances of their beaten team

(CNN) -- Former captain Mike Gatting believes England's Ashes heroes owed their success to exhaustive preparations which left them the best equipped team ever to tackle the Australians Down Under.

England won the final Test in Sydney on Friday by an innings and 83 runs to wrap up the series 3-1 and secure their first Ashes victory away from home in 24 years.

They thrashed an Australian team who had their share of selection and injury problems, losing captain Ricky Ponting for the fifth Test after he aggravated a broken left finger.

However, Gatting, the last Englishman to lead a side to victory in Australia back in 1986, said the hosts' misfortunes should not take anything away from England's triumph in the prestigious biennial contest.

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"It's very hard to win the Ashes in Australia -- we have been trying for years now and we have had some good sides go down there, but this side probably prepared better than any other side had," he told CNN's World Sport program on Friday.

"They really have played well as a team and they did all three disciplines very well. And they have got some good players."

It's very hard to win the Ashes in Australia -- we have been trying for years now
--1986-1988 England captain, Mike Gatting

Gatting singled out man of the series Alistair Cook as England's star performer, after the batsman scored a mammoth 776 runs, with a double century and two other Test tons.

"He just loves batting. He is playing very well at the moment and really made the Australians pay," Gatting added.

"He is really just ideal for the captain -- you know he is going to bat long and put you in an ideal position to win the Test match."

Despite England's dominant performance, current captain Andrew Strauss believes that his side, now ranked third in the International Cricket Council Test rankings, two points behind South Africa in second with India in first, still have room for improvement.

"The majority of the team are going to be hitting their peak time in the next couple of years and we have always got to be thinking about how we can improve and get better," he told reporters in Sydney.

"People will now have high expectations of us, and we're going to have to work very hard to live up to them."

Australian fans no longer have such high expectations of their cricket team, with the national press deeply critical of their efforts.

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"It was such slow, painful torture that you wondered whether this is what it must be like to be squeezed to death by a boa constrictor," the Herald Sun reported.

Meanwhile, the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper described the loss as "a capitulation as feeble and abject as can be imagined."

As if to further highlight Australia's crisis, stand-in skipper for the final Test Michael Clarke -- who scored just 193 runs in the series -- retired from Twenty20 internationals just minutes after Friday's official presentations.

And the question remains as to whether it will be Clarke or Ponting who will carry on as captain of the once unbeatable cricket Australian cricket team.

Its something Australia are going to have to come back from but they have in the past and they will again
--Mike Gatting

"Clarke has been the anointed captain but he has lost his first Test and didn't score many runs," John Stern, editor of the renowned Wisden cricketer magazine, told CNN.

"I find it hard to think that Ponting will carry on being captain but there are some who would like to see Ponting resign the captaincy and try and play on as a batsman for another year or so if he can rediscover his form.

"As a great great player and a legend of the game that would be a better way for him to finish than to go out injured and defeated as he is now. But there are no other candidates to replace him other than Clarke."

But despite their current problems Gatting, who was often at the losing end against Australian in his playing days, believes they will eventually bounce back from the defeat to be stronger than ever.

"Australia have a bit of thinking to do -- it does hurt and it's something that they are going to have to come back from but they have done so in the past and I'm sure they will again.

"It might take them a bit longer this time because they haven't got the quality of players ready to come and they have got a lot of conundrums so that's going to take two or three years.

"And we have actually got two more Ashes series before than so it is hopefully going to be positive for England. You won't hear me feeling sorry for them."