England short of World Cup class, says Hussain

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The Independent Online

Nasser Hussain admitted yesterday that his England side are a long way from finding the one-day form to take them to World Cup victory next year.

England's hopes of winning the one-day series were ended by the centurion Nathan Astle, who gave them an object lesson in the art of building a match-winning innings at this level. Hussain's men lost the series 3-2 following their crushing five-wicket defeat in Dunedin and the England captain believes there is plenty of work still to do.

"At the moment we are nowhere near competing for a World Cup final spot," he said. "Since leaving for Zimbabwe last autumn we have changed the side a little bit and we have worked hard for each other and have done 70 per cent of the basic skills well, but we have 30 per cent to work on and we have to concentrate on key areas."

Duncan Fletcher, the England coach, identified some failings. "There are areas within matches where we don't do so well. Today it was between the 30th and 40th overs, although it was good to see the guys bat through the full 50 overs because in the past they would have been bowled out inside the 50 overs."

England were limited to only three boundaries in their final 10 overs and added only 43 runs, a continual failing during the winter and one they will need to solve if they are to challenge next year in South Africa.

"Once we lost three wickets we had to re-group and we were probably 20 or 30 runs short – that is what lost us the game," Hussain said.

Astle said his 12th one-day century in his 150th appearance "ranked up there with the best". He added: "I wanted to play my game. I haven't done myself justice in this series, plus I reckon I've had a couple of unlucky umpiring calls, so I went out and tried to dominate."

It was a disappointing end to an otherwise encouraging seven-week trip, which included an unexpected drawn series in India and coming from 2-0 down to draw level in the series against New Zealand. But at least Hussain and Fletcher have a much better idea of the calibre of personnel they now have at their disposal.

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