Cricket World Cup 2011

England hunt for consistency

2011-03-22 07:59
England's middle-order - Jonathan Trott, Eoin Morgan and Ian Bell. (AFP)

New Delhi - Having had their World Cup quarter-final spot confirmed by South Africa's victory over Bangladesh on Saturday, England spent the second half of their weekend at a holding camp in Delhi waiting to see where they would begin their knockout campaign and the identity of the opposition. However, having lived on the edge throughout their campaign, they aren't really bothered about the finer points.

Faced with the daunting prospect of a clash with Sri Lanka, England are going to have to play much more consistently than over the last month.

"It's been pretty incredible, tiring and a little bit frustrating that we haven't quite put it all together," Ian Bell said.

"We've played six games here and still haven't got it all right at the same time. If we win all three matches, we'll be able to look back on one of the best [northern hemisphere] winters of all time. Three games, and we can win a World Cup."

Bell believes the fact that the tournament now switches to knockout cricket will suit England, who began their elimination matches earlier than some with the must-win meeting against West Indies.

After England's defeats to Ireland and Bangladesh, talk of tiredness after a hectic six months has been common, but Bell insists there is plenty left in the tank.

"We saw that in the last game against the West Indies, that even after a long winter, the guys are desperate to keep progressing in this tournament. The belief has always been there, and still is, that we can beat anyone on our day.

"In the last 12-18 months, when we've had matches we've got to win, we've come out well. It's very clear to us what we have to do, and I'm sure there are a lot of teams around that don't really want to play England - because they don't quite know what they're going to get at the minute."

One of the key areas England need to improve is the opening partner for Andrew Strauss. Since Kevin Pietersen was forced home with his hernia, Matt Prior has returned to the role but managed uncertain scores of 15 and 21 in his two innings.

The management will be reluctant to make another change, but Bell is a tempting option to partner the consistent Strauss in the quarter-final.

"I'd be as keen as anything to do it," Bell said. "If I had to stay at four and keep to my role for the team, I'm happy to do that as well. It's something I've been asked to do in this World Cup.

"One of my strengths is going out there and playing spin, so I feel very confident and comfortable batting in that position.

"But one of my strengths is in being quite flexible. I haven't really had one position with England in one-day cricket; I've been up and down the order.

"I'd like to be able to nail one place and stay there for a while. But if I have to move up and down, I'm willing to do that as well." 


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