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Strauss: No trouble raising game
NAGPUR — England’s players will have no problem raising their game for the World Cup despite the exertions of the Ashes and the one-day series defeats in Australia, according to captain Andrew Strauss.
After an historic 3-1 Test series win in Australia, an exhausted and increasingly injury-depleted squad was routed 6-1 in limited-overs matches. The shorter games were so unpopular with players that they publicly criticised the scheduling repeatedly. Several members of England’s 15-man World Cup squad, including Strauss, had just a handful of nights at home before flying out to Bangladesh and India. But Strauss said yesterday that the excitement of a World Cup in cricket-crazy Asia was enough to erase any lingering doubts that the players may not return to their best. “If you are lucky, you might play in two or three in your career,” Strauss said of the World Cup. “You don’t want to have any regrets at the end of it, so I don’t think that’s a problem. That was an accusation you could have levied at us in the one-day series against Australia but not in the World Cup. “We are up for it. We are excited. There is a good vibe and buzz about everything out here at the moment. It is a massive event out in the subcontinent and we want to do ourselves proud.”
Strauss wasn’t around for his team’s last slip-up against the Netherlands but is determined to avoid another when the sides open their World Cup campaigns in Nagpur today. “If we are ten percent off and they have a good day, we are in trouble,” Strauss said yesterday, a day ahead of the game. The Netherlands beat the World Twenty20 hosts by four wickets at Lord’s just two years ago, giving England’s players plenty of warning of what could happen at Nagpur’s VCA Stadium if they perform below their best. Strauss does not care how England progresses to the quarterfinals as one of the top four teams in the seven-nation Group B. However, there is pressure to perform against the lesser nations of the Netherlands and Ireland for fear of turning meetings with big guns South Africa and India into must-win matches.
Dutch players to prove themselves
Netherlands captain Peter Borren wants his players to prove their country deserves a place at future World Cups. The International Cricket Council will reduce the 14-team tournament to ten nations for 2015, which will almost certainly prevent the Netherlands, Ireland, Kenya, Canada and other second-tier sides from appearing again on 50-over cricket’s biggest stage. But Borren says questions over whether smaller nations deserve their places at the competition cannot be answered until at least after today’s opening match against England. “We’re hoping by pulling off the sort of results that have happened in the past, we can answer that question on the field,” Borren said. “We’ve got to focus on this competition and obviously that starts tomorrow (today). “We need to prove ourselves out on the field in a way that we can make our own statement with regard to what happens in the future to the 50-over World Cup.”
The Dutch beat England at Lord’s in the 2009 World Twenty20, but a repeat in the longer, more demanding one-day game could be more elusive — not least with Borren unable to bowl because of an abdominal injury. “Everything’s different about Twenty20 to 50-over cricket,” Borren said. “We’ve played a lot of 50-over cricket over the last couple of years, although not as much as maybe we would like against full member sides. “It’s a different challenge, more of a challenge, different conditions, completely different competition and a different day, but (the 2009 victory) is something we can take some confidence from.” England has pushed Kevin Pietersen up to opener in an effort to get the most from his explosive talent, but that could backfire if he holes out early. “It’s a change from England and for Pietersen himself,” Borren said. “We’re well aware what he’s capable of and aware he’s not done that job all that much, so hopefully that gives us an opportunity. “We’re concentrating mainly on what we’re doing. But if we can create pressure through disciplined bowling and fielding well, I expect that we will create chances and it’s all about taking those.” (AP)
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