Chennai, March 18 (IANS) A hugely relieved England skipper Andrew Strauss said their gamble of playing three “substitute” players paid off by way of an 18-run win against the West Indies in a key Group B fixture of the ICC Cricket World Cup here Thursday.
Paying rich tributes the contribution made especially by off-spinner James Tredwell, playing his first World Cup game, came away with a four-wicket haul, Strauss said the three early wickets he took set up the victory.
“It was a huge gamble in bringing in boys into a big game. James (Tredwell) did well to take those three early wickets; (Chris) Tremlett took a great catch and Luke (Wright) made 44.
“It is difficult to be sitting on the sidelines and watching the match. Ravi (Bopara) too bowled a fine spell to take two wickets,” said Strauss in reference to the three players who were included for Thursday’s game.
When asked whether he was optimistic of England’s chances during the 72-run partnership between Ramnaresh Sarwan and Andre Russell, Russell said they were still hopeful of a breakthrough.
“I still thought there was another twist in the tail. We knew something will happen. (Graeme) Swann took two wickets in an over to turn the game around,” Strauss said during the post-match Media conference.
Strauss admitted that the past few days had been especially difficult in the wake of the defeat to Bangladesh that put England in a must-win situation against the West Indies.
“Yes, it was difficult to get the boys up after the Bangladesh defeat. But none of us wanted to go home tomorrow morning.
“We have been through some tough times in the recent weeks and today, the togetherness helped us to win.
“We got to be a lot better in the field and be more consistent to progress in this tournament. You got to be in it to win it,” he said.
Tredwell, on his part, obviously looked pleased at his performance and he attributed his success to persisting with his attacking approach.
“It wasn’t easy to be sitting on the side, but I concentrated on working on my skills and execute them in the middle,” he said.
West Indies team coach Ottis Gibson preferred to see the brighter side and said the team’s focus would be now on Sunday’s game against India and try to win to qualify for the quarter-finals.
“Any defeat is disappointing. We let them off when they were 151 for six. But all in all, we saw the emergence of young players like leg-spinner (Devendra) Bishoo, (Andre) Russell and (Kemar) Roach.
“The West Indies team is starting to show the kind of resilience that is required to beat big teams. We haven’t beaten a big team in the past 20 months. Tonight we had the chance, but did not take it,” said Gibson who, incidentally, was attached to the England team last year.
Regarding the attacking start the West Indies made while chasing a target of 244, Gibson said it was a deliberate ploy keeping in mind the conditions.
“We picked a team according to the conditions. We wanted to score quickly at the start when the ball was hard and new. So, after Gayle was out, we sent in (Darren) Sammy to continue to attack.
“When the ball became softer, it was difficult to bat. But we were still in the game at the end. We needed someone to be there to take us home, but didn’t,” said Gibson.
Looking ahead to Sunday’s game against India, the coach said he said the players will concentrate on winning the match regardless of the result of the game between the South Africa and Bangladesh on Saturday.
“We can’t worry about that match, but whatever happens in Bangladesh, we would like to win on Sunday,” he said.