IPL auction distracted England players: Gooch

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/e/ecb.jpg' class='caption'> Former captain Graham Gooch lambasted England after their massive loss to Windies in the first Test, blaming it on the distraction caused by the IPL.

Updated: February 08, 2009 17:22 IST
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Former captain Graham Gooch on Sunday lambasted England's "undercooked" cricketers after their massive loss to West Indies in the first Test, blaming it on the distraction caused by the Indian Premier League auction.

England lost by an innings and 23 runs just a day after Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff were sold for a mind-boggling sum of $1.55 million each at the IPL auction.

"The England team say there has been no distraction with the IPL. But when all these background influences are going on, it's not the best environment to give your best performances.

"For Andrew Strauss to say it's hardly been mentioned doesn't seem believable to me. I'm sure the IPL has come into the background in discussions," Gooch said. Gooch also said that England went into the series under-prepared and there were lot of issues which English cricket needs to resolve.

"It's an issue that comes up every tour. I always think England teams are 'undercooked' when they go into Test series. They play a couple of matches, but I don't think that's adequate practice for a full-blown Test series.

"Batsmen need to get runs under their belt, and bowlers need to get their run-ups sorted out and get that rhythm as well," he told Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek.

Gooch also said the biggest challenge before skipper Andrew Strauss is to have a united dressing room. "There are a lot of things to concern about English cricket - not least the fact that England haven't got a steady hand on the tiller.

"I don't know how permanent the captaincy appointment is, and they haven't got a permanent coach. It does worry you about the direction they're going in and whether the team are just standing still and not going forward.

"One of Andrew Strauss' biggest tasks, along with stand-in coach Andy Flowers, is to unify the dressing room," he said.

Former West Indies captain Clive Lloyd believes Strauss needs to perform with the bat to lead the team in an effective manner.

"His problem will come if he doesn't make runs, because he will be worrying about that and then worrying about the team. When I was captain we used to target the captain. If you can get the captain to fail often you put pressure on him. He's all over the field with his field placing.

"How can you marshall your men when you yourself are not doing well? He must go out there and do well with the bat," he opined.

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