Dominic Cork: England need to crush Irish to feed feel-good factor
Outside Off Stump
Wednesday 02 March 2011
Cricket followers will be talking about the tied match between England and India long after the World Cup has been handed over and everyone has gone home and understandably so, because it was an absolute cracker.
But Andrew Strauss's team will not need telling that last Sunday's game is already a part of history and what we want to see from them today is a truly clinical performance against Ireland. England can take plenty from the first of their two matches in Bangalore. OK, they worked themselves into a great position to win it but had to settle for just one point. And true, some of their bowling could have been better. There are almost always ifs and maybes when it comes to one-day cricket and what pleased me most was the way they fought right to the end of a contest many people thought they would lose by a distance.
On the evidence of that performance, England are capable of beating anyone in this World Cup, provided they are on top of their game. And on the basis we want to see them improving with each match, today's second fixture in Bangalore presents an ideal opportunity to produce a ruthless all-round display.
Of course England should beat Ireland. But while results are all important, this time I'm hoping to see them take control from an early stage, stay in charge and truly dominate. It is safe to assume that Strauss and coach Andy Flower will expect just the same against opponents who are well enough known not to be a surprise package. Today is a day for stamping your authority on proceedings.
I was not too concerned with how England performed against the Dutch. It was how they did against India that interested me more. Now, moving forward again, this would be a good time for a couple of players to get back into top form. Jimmy Anderson is one of them. People are going to have their bad days – he has had two on the trot after going for 72 against the Netherlands and then 91 in the India game. We must remember, though, that the wickets are particularly flat and he was unfortunate early on against India, with Virender Sehwag having some luck. The margin between success and failure can be very small, especially for bowlers. What I know about Jimmy is that he has been an outstanding player for England for a long time and he must keep playing because he will win games.
One person who does need to make a major contribution to the team is Paul Collingwood. He has been out of form for a while now and, if he continues like this, the selectors must think about replacing him with Ravi Bopara.
Bopara missed out at the weekend because England changed the balance of their side and changed it for the better. Michael Yardy should play every match from now on.
If the top six don't score the bulk of your runs then they are not doing well enough and you must make changes. As for Yardy, he is important because he gives the side a different bowling option and is difficult to hit. On top of that, he has worked hard on his fielding while his left-handed batting down the order, among all the right-handers, is another plus point.
Talking of hard work, what about Tim Bresnan? He is someone who has put a huge amount of effort into his game and England now have a valuable player on their hands. He bats well, he fields well and his bowling against India was outstanding.
People have underestimated Bresnan. I was in Bangladesh last winter and some were asking what he brings to the side. He is like a smaller version of Andrew Flintoff: someone with great upper body strength who hits back of a length, leaving batsmen unsure whether to come forward or go back and he hits the bat hard. Throw in the fact he has wonderful control of his yorker, will hold up his hand to bowl at the "death" and has a big heart, and it is no wonder England were desperate for him to recover from the calf injury that sent him home early from Australia.
Time to take the powerplay early
The batting powerplay did England no favours on Sunday and bowlers seem to be getting more out of those five overs in this World Cup. Maybe the time has come to be a bit more adventurous and take your powerplay as soon as possible (after 15 overs), rather than leaving it late when the ball is soft. It could be worth a try if your two batsmen are well set.
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