New Delhi, March 19 (IANS) After their roller-coaster ride in the World Cup, England are finally breathing easy having secured a safe passage to quarterfinals, courtesy South Africa’s big victory over Bangladesh Saturday.
Had Bangladesh upset South Africa, England, who have lived dangerously in the tournament, would have to wait for the result of the last league match between India and West Indies Sunday to know their own fate.
“It’s great to be through. It was our first objective even though it has been a bit of a roller-coaster,” England coach Andy Flower said here.
“It has been tense and exciting. We have had close games and gone through all sorts of emotions running through the dressing room,” Flower said.
“I think our players have done well under pressure. None more so than in the last game against West Indies. Against West Indies, we scrapped and fought. We would have liked to be more dominant but now we are only looking ahead,” Flower said.
England went through a range of emotions on the cricket field. They have played like champions in some matches and looked clueless in some others. Against heavyweights they were fiercely competitive, against lesser opposition they struggled.
They beat South Africa and West Indies and tied against India in a high scoring match, but went down against lowly ranked Bangladesh and Ireland.
“We have played well against South Africa and India who are the favourites. But we have not been consistent. We have to improve and learn our lessons or we will not go further.”
“Youngsters are performing their role to perfection. We saw them during the Ashes series and now here they are doing the job,” said Flower.
Flower said now the team is focussing on the knockout stage.
“We may have to play in Colombo. I was watching the Australia-Pakistan match and the pitch seems to be pretty good. We have played there before. But we have no preference over venue. Once we know the conditions and opposition, we can prepare in earnest,” said the former Zimbabwe player.
England have called another replacement in pacer Jade Dernbach for Ajmal Shahzad, who has returned home with hamstring trouble.
“Jade Dernbach has done well in West Indies in four-day cricket. We have got good reports about him. He has good pace and variety and will be an attacking option for us.”
“We had to shuffle our side and the way players have stepped up is outstanding. They have trained and prepared well and have remained sharp.”
Asked about pacer James Anderson, Flower said: “He has had a strenuous winter and we have to mange his workload. We need to have a clear rotation policy for fast bowlers. It’s fortunate that we have got a bit of a break right now.”