Cricket: Aussie 'backlash' talk doesn't bother new MCC chief Gatting

LONDON (AFP) - Former England cricket captain Mike Gatting has laughed off suggestions that Alastair Cook's men could face an Australia "backlash" when they defend the Ashes Down Under.

Despite losing the recent Ashes series in England by a convincing 3-0 margin, the Australia camp have been in bullish mood ahead of the return campaign which starts with the first Test in Brisbane in November.

But Gatting, who led England to Ashes glory in Australia in 1986-87, told BBC Sport on Monday: "What are they (Australia) going to backlash us (England) with?

"Have they found another Shane Warne or a Glenn McGrath?" added the former batsman, famously dismissed by leg-spin great Warne's "ball of the century" at Old Trafford in 1993.

"Yes, the Aussies did improve over the course of the series but you would expect them to improve because Australians are proud cricketers.

"They had a good bowling attack but sadly their batsmen let them down.

"We had the quality to win the important moments, with the ball or with the bat," Gatting said of an England side who have now won three successive Ashes series.

"We were quite consistent, but the Australians had inconsistencies throughout.

"If the two teams are pretty much the same, I wouldn't expect the result to be any different."

Gatting has spent much of his career at Lord's, first as a player with Middlesex and then England, before coaching Middlesex and becoming an England selector.

Most recently, he has worked at the ground as an administrator with the England and Wales Cricket Board.

But Tuesday will see the 56-year-old Gatting extend his relationship with the "home of cricket" still further when he becomes president of Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), which owns Lord's and still retains global responsibility for the sport's Laws or rules.

He will become MCC's 179th president during a momentous year for both Lord's Ground and Middlesex.

MCC will celebrate the bicentenary of the present ground in 2014, and Middlesex CCC the 150th anniversary of its formation.

"It is an amazing honour to have been asked to serve as president at the best cricket club in the world," said Gatting, who captained MCC against the Rest of the World at Lord's during the club's bicentenary in 1987.

Gatting said he was looking forward to strengthening Lord's work with those who live near the ground, situated in north-west London.

"I grew up not far from Lord's in Willesden. One of my big things will be to get the MCC to really reach out into the local community," he explained.

"We have been to communities all round the world, helping out with Afghanistan and Sri Lanka - and doing huge amounts to boost the game in other people's backyards.

"Sadly we've never really looked at our backyard and seen how we can help people in places like Kilburn, Willesden, Islington, Camden, Paddington and Wembley.

"So we've appointed a community officer to try to make those links with the local area much stronger.

"We need to show we are interested in them and care about them."

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