Strauss bullish over World Cup hopes
Captain Andrew Strauss does not think England’s World Cup hopes have been damaged by the one-day series defeat in Australia.
England have not been at their best in ODIs recently and trail 5-1 heading into the final match of the contest in Perth tomorrow.
They had won their previous six one-day series before arriving in Australia where injuries during the limited-overs games have struck hard to undermine their performances.
Worst hit has been the bowling division with Graeme Swann (back), Tim Bresnan (calf), Ajmal Shahzad (hamstring) and all-rounder Paul Collingwood (back) all having flown home early.
Pacemen Stuart Broad has also been sidelined for the entire series due to the stomach injury he suffered during the Ashes.
Apart from Bresnan, all of those names are, however, expected to be fit for the World Cup opener against Netherlands on February 22 and Strauss believes their returns will significantly boost his side when the tournament rolls around.
“I’m very optimistic about our World Cup chances. It’s obviously disappointing that we haven’t done as well in this series as we would have liked but there have been plenty of signs,” Strauss said.
“We’ve been a little bit away from our strongest one-day side in this series, as have Australia, it’s not an excuse for us but we are certainly looking forward to having our experienced campaigners back.
“We’ve got very close to 300 three times and our bowlers have put in some good performances as well. We haven’t got it together all in one game unfortunately, but there is a lot there to be positive about.
“We’ve got some players coming back and we’re really excited about the type of cricket we are looking to play out there in India.”
Strauss also believes it is hard to draw a certain line of form heading into the World Cup because his side will face completely different conditions in the sub-continent.
The slower, turning wickets are a far cry from the pace-friendly pitches in Australia, with the WACA tomorrow set to offer the starkest of contrasts.
“We’ve learnt quite a lot during this tour, but how totally relevant it is to the World Cup I’m not so sure,” he added.
“The conditions here are very different, and we will have slightly different personnel out there as well, but it is important you keep evolving and you keep learning as a side.
“What you need to do is learn from where we went wrong.
“The conditions are obviously very different, but you still have to find a way of winning a game of cricket and we haven’t done that well enough on this tour.
“There are plenty of positives to take out of it. There is a nice realisation in our squad now that the World Cup is just around the corner and that’s an exciting prospect for us.
“After a few days of rest and relaxation we will be ready to get amongst it in Bangladesh.”
England have just a three-day turnaround between arriving home from Australia and then flying out to Dhaka to begin their World Cup preparations on February 12.
With such little time to relax Strauss said the injuries to his bowlers may even help his side, as they have been afforded more time at home to recuperate.
“The injuries are a bit of a setback, but it looks like the guys are going to be fit for the World Cup so in some ways it might be a blessing in disguise,” he added. “The guys will be reasonably fresh.”
Strauss is looking forward to returning to England for some home comforts after a long tour that has now passed the 100-day mark.
“No doubt. We’ve been away from our families for a while now,” he said.
“Even a few days at home you get out of the bubble and you’re allowed to put your feet up, rest, relax and get your head around the idea of going to the World Cup.
“That’s a very exciting time in any cricketer’s life and it’s just around the corner now so the juices are starting to flow on that and they will do over the coming days even more so.”
Before England’s players can take a well-earned break, they must first complete the one-day series in Perth and, after a successful tour that saw the Ashes won in Australia for the first time in 24 years, Strauss is hoping to end it with a win.
“We are very determined to do so. It’s the last game, it’s the last opportunity we have to give a good account of ourselves,” he added.
“I think the guys are very excited about it; finishing the tour on a high and then heading for a few days off before the World Cup feeling good about our prospects.”