From the publishers of THE HINDU

VOL.34 :: NO.08 :: Feb. 24, 2011

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WORLD CUP SPECIAL / TEAM ANALYSIS/ENGLAND

Weary England's World Cup woes

Despite being riddled with injuries Andrew Strauss and his dour lot still claim to be in the reckoning for the prize that's eluded nine English parties since 1975. But considering that teams from the Isles never quite approach any degree of comfort in the sub-continent, this one's going to take some getting. Over to Kunal Diwan.

AP

Stuart Broad whose Ashes trip was severed in nascence is likely to miss the first few World Cup matches too, and the late detection of a fractured finger on the person of dasher Eoin Morgan has further weakened the team.

Now that the 6-1 roughing up has all but undone the motivational benefits of an Ashes win, it's time for injuries to take over. Thrice the bridesmaid, England might begin its latest World Cup campaign with some key men not at cent per cent fitness.

Paul Collingwood (back spasm) returned home from Australia four days before the tour's conclusion, adding to the list of the depleted, which includes Tim Bresnan (torn calf muscle), Graeme Swann (bruised knee) and Ajmal Shahzad (torn hamstring). Chris Tremlett — not a part of the original World Cup squad but a possible replacement — has also been curtailed with a side strain, aggravating England's scenario. Stuart Broad whose Ashes trip was severed in nascence is likely to miss the first few World Cup matches too, and the late detection of a fractured finger on the person of dasher Eoin Morgan has further weakened the team.

“We have got six guys injured and if you look a little further into some of the people on the field, we have got some significant niggles that people are dealing with. Obviously it's not ideal preparation for the World Cup,” the Telegraph quoted coach Andy Flower as saying.

All these portends ill for a side which has played non-stop cricket for the past three months. If it happens, the absence of Collingwood and Broad will deprive skipper Andrew Strauss of both batting and bowling options. And with the exit of Morgan, a dashing middle-overs orchestrator, the onus of providing the goodies will fall largely on Strauss and Kevin Pietersen, who has not been in the best of form.

“Of course the timing of them getting back to full fitness is important for the start of the World Cup,” Flower said, “We can't be absolutely certain of that at this stage but we are monitoring them on a daily basis.”

Strauss and his dour lot still claim to be in the reckoning for the prize that's eluded nine English parties since 1975. But considering that teams from the Isles never quite approach any degree of comfort in the sub-continent, this one's going to take some getting. England is placed in Group ‘B', where it will compete with India, South Africa, West Indies, Bangladesh, Ireland and Netherlands for four quarterfinal slots. Beyond that stage, nothing is a given.

The captain has been an inspirational figure — dependable, with a strong acceleration — and has been stroking runs at an average of 60 (strike rate: 90.14) in the year past.

In the dustbowls, his contribution will assume a greater significance as his team battles to have a full-strength squad. Matt Prior, a surprise inclusion over Steven Davies as the wicket-keeper batsman, will have to vindicate his selection at the top of the order. Jonathan Trott was prolific against the Aussies, but Pietersen has been half the force he was during England's Twenty20 World Cup win. The rash of left-arm tweakers Pietersen is likely to face in the sub-continent will also keep him on his guard.

In the bowling department, a lot hinges on how Swann, if he gets fit in time, and Michael Yardy, the left-armer, perform in tandem in what are generalised as ‘spinner-friendly conditions'.

THE SQUAD

Andrew Strauss (captain)
James Anderson
Ian Bell
Tim Bresnan
Stuart Broad
Paul Collingwood
Ravi Bopara
Kevin Pietersen
Matt Prior
Ajmal Shahzad
Graeme Swann
James Tredwell
Jonathan Trott
Luke Wright
Michael Yardy




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