Dominic Cork: Taking on India in Bangalore is just the wake-up England need
Outside Off Stump: Most people will make England the long-odds second favourites on Sunday. Good. If they were playing minnows, a weight of expectation would be on them again
Friday 25 February 2011
India. In their own backyard of Bangalore. With tens of thousands of screaming supporters willing them to win. But far from being a nightmare scenario, I think it is better for England to play the tournament favourites next, rather than another minnow, after that deeply disappointing performance against the Dutch.
No, I haven't taken leave of my senses and, yes, I did see how Andrew Strauss's team bowled and fielded in Nagpur on Tuesday. But what England have done well, in recent times in limited-overs cricket, is to play better against the more fancied sides.
If Ireland, say, were next on the agenda for Strauss's men then the weight of expectation would be on them again. As it is, most people are going to make them long-odds second favourites against India on Sunday and, in many ways, they will have nothing to lose as they try to convince everyone that their efforts during the first half of the Netherlands game were not a true reflection of their ability.
Looking at it negatively, if things don't go well against India then at least England will have the chance to put it right – and get back on course to reach the quarter-finals – when they meet the Irish in their third game next week. But if they beat India then they'll be flying high. And I've played enough cricket to know an England win against the co-hosts is perfectly possible.
But before all that, the Netherlands game has to be analysed in the team room: analysed, talked about and chewed over to find out why it went wrong.
The first thing to remember is that it was a win – and as Manchester United will doubtless confirm after beating non-League Crawley 1-0 in the FA Cup, the result is the most important thing. Also, you could say, given that we are looking for a team to get better and better as the tournament progresses, at least England have left themselves with plenty of room for improvement! But, clearly, their bowling and fielding in Nagpur was way below what any of us wanted to see and must be improved straight away. The bowlers, with the exception of Graeme Swann, did not get their lengths and lines right (Tim Bresnan did OK, but can do better) and as for the fielding, all those lapses will have caused the team real grief because they have worked so hard to make themselves a tip-top unit.
The coach Andy Flower and the captain Andrew Strauss will have led the inquest but the players are best placed to know what went wrong. Were they a bit too relaxed? Or too pumped up? Did the conditions, clearly so different from those recently experienced in Australia, find them out? All these things will have been discussed at length but the bottom line is that there must be no repeat.
The other thing I want to see is England putting a bit more pressure on new batsmen. Strauss and his bowlers could have done that better against the Dutch, especially those coming out to join Ryan ten Doeschate. If you bring long-on up and the new bloke smashes the ball back past you for four then you say "well played, mate." But getting him out, rather than giving away an easy single, puts pressure on the batsman who is well set.
As for whether England got the selection right on Tuesday, that is open to debate. Much as I think Ravi Bopara is a fantastic cricketer, I was surprised they didn't give themselves a second spinner in Michael Yardy and it will be interesting to see whether there is a change of mind against India.
Whatever side Strauss leads out on Sunday, though, England are capable of winning. I know there is a bit of doom and gloom, with some thinking 'Here we go again, another failed World Cup campaign'. But these are very early days and, provided they play the aggressive cricket they are capable of, England can silence those Bangalore home fans – and cheer up a few back here.
Innovation is the name of this game
i know it is not exactly a new tactic but it was good to see Zimbabwe opening the bowling with a spinner, Ray Price, when they played Australia the other day. It is something they have done before – and something New Zealand did, with Dipak Patel, back in the 1992 World Cup – but it still gave the Aussies a few problems.
I love it when captains try something out of the ordinary, and I'm hoping we witness more examples as the World Cup unfolds. I would not be surprised, for example, to see Australia promoting their fast bowler Mitchell Johnson up the order, having trialled the idea at home against England.
It could just be that a tactical ploy will make all the difference when the big sides start meeting each other in the knockout stage.
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