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Flintoff carries England, says Hayden

"Freddie had an enormous Ashes series. I think he carries England and that is a big responsibility," Hayden told Wisden Cricketer magazine.

india Updated: Apr 13, 2006 19:58 IST

The current England team is carried by all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, according to Australia batsman Matthew Hayden.

Flintoff, named this week as Wisden's world cricketer of 2005, played a huge part in England winning back the Ashes last year and Hayden thinks he was the difference between the sides.

"Freddie Flintoff had an enormous series. I think he carries England and that is a big responsibility," Hayden told Wisden Cricketer magazine.

Hayden believes Australia are still the world's best team despite their 2-1 series defeat in England.

"This Australian side is an amazing side," Hayden said.

"England are a very good team, but Australia are better. The records of the individuals alone reveal that. But we gained a lot of respect for England."

Hayden said the Ashes defeat would make Australia stronger in the long term.

"It was a good reminder for Australia to keep our standards and keep our levels," he said.

Hayden struggled in the last Ashes series until making 138 in the final Test at The Oval but he is confident of playing better when England visit Australia to defend the Ashes later this year.

"I'm a lot less worried about facing the seamers at the Gabba or the WACA, as that is where I grew up," he said.

"There is pace and bounce but it is my turf, I understand those venues so well.

"There are a lot of challenges in Australia. They are going to be confronted with a whole new level of excitement.

"It is our home and we are very proud of our record at home."

Hayden said the Australian team has a good relationship with the current England players.

"When England were led by Nasser Hussain they weren't sociable, they were scared to talk," he said.

"We felt they were always reasonably arrogant, they had no character about them.

"This England side has a bit of spunk, they enjoy playing their cricket, they are good mates like we are."