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Vaughan cautious despite Queen's approval

Michael Vaughan, who received his Order of British Empire (OBE), will be flying to India on Sunday with his team, aware that they need to bounce back from defeats in Pakistan before Christmas.

india Updated: Feb 10, 2006 20:23 IST

England will leave for India this weekend with a royal seal of approval for their Ashes success after receiving honours from the Queen at Buckingham Palace on Thursday.

Michael Vaughan, who received his Order of British Empire (OBE), will be flying to India on Sunday with his team, aware that they need to bounce back from Test and one-day international series defeats in Pakistan before Christmas.

The significant challenge facing Vaughan and company in three Tests and seven one-dayers in India was underlined by chairman of selectors David Graveney even as he celebrated his own OBE - in company with head coach Duncan Fletcher, team manager Phil Neale and England women's captain Clare Connor - at a Palace reception which followed the awards ceremony.

Graveney fears their opponents' Test defeat by Pakistan will mean Rahul Dravid's team do not lack for motivation. "They will be smarting from their defeat against Pakistan, and that won't make it any easier. We'll have to play really well out there, we know that," he said.

Talking about playing conditions, Graveney said, "It will be interesting to see what the wickets are like; I think they'll probably have a bit more in them for the bowlers than in Pakistan." It will be a major surprise, however, if England's three spin options - veteran Shaun Udal, rookie Monty Panesar and one-day regular Ian Blackwell - are not called upon to bowl many overs and required to take plenty of wickets.

So far, they have only Udal's three in Test matches between them; yet they will be judged against the prolific Indian pair Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble. That appears an unenviable task - but Graveney remains optimistic. "Yes, we're going to miss Ashley," he admitted. "Nobody is pretending otherwise - it is such a big blow - but I think it is a fantastic opportunity for the spinners who are going out there.

"A lot has been said about our lack of spin resources at the moment. But this trip will tell us a lot about what we really have, and I think the boys going out there could make a huge impression. The whole team will have to play exceptionally well - and probably the spinners in particular."

First Published: Feb 10, 2006 20:23 IST