Buchanan attacks England stars

“[Pietersen] certainly talks about himself as a team player, but I don’t see any evidence of that…you’ve got to walk the walk and I know Flintoff’s tried, but it hasn’t worked.” Those were the words of Australia coach John Buchanan today, as salt was rubbed into the wounds already opened by Australia’s players in recent weeks.

“It surprises me that he always seems to be distanced from the group,” Buchanan said of Pietersen, one of five England players not to dine with the team on Christmas Day. As for Flintoff, Buchanan suggested that the England captain’s leadership qualities had been lacking in the Ashes series so far.

“When you set yourself up to be the leader…you need to deliver. You see that from Ricky Ponting, generally he’ll lead from the front and he’ll lead by example…Flintoff’s tried, but it hasn’t worked.” These comments came at a news conference ahead of Tuesday’s final Test of the series, and they may seem somewhat supoerfluous with Australia already holding a 4-0 series lead.

Buchanan did, however, empathise with England coach Duncan Fletcher – he spoke of England’s need to play “catch-up cricket”, much in the way Australia had to in parts of the famous 2005 series. This was his one concession to England, however, on a day when he pulled no punches. His criticism of England’s players might seem justified in the wake of their performances, but he will not have won himself any friends in the England camp.

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