Chennai, March 5 (IANS) It was hardly a surprise that England skipper Andrew Strauss fielded more questions on his team’s weaknesses than strengths, but he asserted that his players prefer to look ahead to Sunday’s Cricket World Cup game against South Africa here rather than dwell on the defeat to Ireland earlier this week.
“The format of this World Cup is that you have to put your defeats down very quickly and move on and look forward to the next game. Clearly, those are the lessons that we learnt from Ireland game.
“The focus is now on South Africa on this wicket and how we are going to win this game. We are very excited about this game and I suppose this is a more familiar territory.
“We have had our successes before in South Africa. We intend to come and play good cricket here tomorrow,” he said at media conference here Saturday.
The beleaguered captain, besides having to deal with sloppy fielding and poor bowling, also has to contend with “niggles” that some of his players are carrying.
“To be fair, there are a few niggles in the side. At the moment, we are certainly hopeful that we pick 12 from the 15 for tomorrow’s match.
Strauss admitted that his bowlers were seen in bad light in the latter half of the game against Ireland who from 111 for five, went on to achieve the winning target of 328.
“It has been talked about. Some of our bowlers were coming from injury layoffs. No one was happy with the form they have shown. There are still opportunities to win the World Cup and to improve and react successfully under the conditions. We have not done that so far.
“It is no doubt that we are disappointed about their performance. They had a chat about how we can make things better in this game. The thing I like is we have got more clarity there. We need to do what we think right,” he said.
Strauss felt while the England fielding needed drastic improvement, all was not lost for his team as they have had victories against all the remaining three teams they are scheduled to play before they conclude their Group B engagements.
“It (fielding) is disappointing. We pride ourselves on fielding, but all we can do is practice and we had really good fielding practice yesterday. Things can change very quickly in the game of cricket and the most important thing is to retain belief in yourself and others in the team.
“If you do that, there is no reason we cannot go on to win. We have beaten South Africa a lot of times before. We have beaten Bangladesh and the West Indies before. So if we win three games, we are definitely into the quarter-finals.
“As I said, the advantages in this tournament are that you get opportunities to get back into the game after defeat. After a poor performance, you have got to bounce back. Hopefully, South Africa will take us lightly after our Ireland match. If they do that, I can look forward to a chance to win the game,” Strauss said.
Looking ahead to Sunday’s game, Strauss felt that England’s chances hinged on how well they bowled.
“I think the simple answer is we will bowl to our plans against them. We know how they bat and we are not going to have any surprise packages. We need to bowl to our potential for decent result.
“We are not entirely sure who is going to play. It is cross lit, entirely hot and dry. We are not sure how much spin is going to come in. There is some spin in it,” he observed.
Regarding South African leg-spinner Imran Tahir who has been fairly successful in the two matches so far with a haul of seven wickets, Strauss said some of his players had faced him before in the county championship and as such, would be able to pick him.
“When he (Tahir) first came to county cricket, he started with Middlesex and I had played with him for a few games. As leg-spinners always do, he brings variety.
“Some of our players played against him before. Probably, we will have less problem when we face him, unlike the other teams,” he said.
When asked whether his team had acclimatized to the conditions and played accordingly, Strauss said the players had not reacted quickly in the World Cup so far.
“Majority of this one-day side has been together for a while now and had a lot of success. We have won quite a few series. We haven’t reacted as quickly as we would have wanted to the conditions here, certainly with the ball, but the batsmen did pretty well.
“I have got huge amount of faith in our players. They had shown time and time that they can rise to the big occasions, tomorrow is a big occasion,” he said.