Graveney's positive slant
Chairman of selectors David Graveney admits England came up short in the ICC Champions Trophy - but insists they can take some positives from the trip.
Losing their opening two group games cost England any chance of qualifying for the semi-finals, but a fine three-wicket win over holders West Indies lifted spirits before the early return home.
“It was very disappointing,” Graveney said. “Despite what a lot of people said, we went there to win the tournament, so if you do not win it and you are out before the first stage is over then it is obviously disappointing."
England twice failed to set a challenging total, against India and Australia, before chasing a target to win a dead match against the already qualified Windies.
It is those batting frailties, notwithstanding strike bowler Steve Harmison’s lack of form with the new ball, which Graveney identifies as the most obvious problem.
“You are not going to win too many matches if you are bowled out for 120 and 160 and you don’t manage to bat through your overs,” he reasoned.
“The boys worked extremely hard on their fitness - not just for this tournament but for the Ashes too - but we have to say we came up short.”
Kevin Pietersen struck a brilliant unbeaten 90 to see England to a target of 273 against West Indies in a game which saw Andrew Flintoff make a successful return to bowling action after injury.
“They did well to win that match - that showed a lot of character,” Graveney said.
“There are plus points, in Kevin Pietersen’s batting in that game and the fact Andrew Flintoff came through, bowling two spells, which was quite important.
“Steve Harmison found it more difficult. It is a real test of character when the ball is flying to the boundary - but he will keep working hard, like everyone else.”
Some pundits have blamed England’s problems on the domestic calendar and its lack of emphasis on the 50-over game, and Graveney admits that the international schedule does not always favour them.
“We always have an Ashes series before a World Cup, which obviously slightly affects our preparation going into the tournament,” he said.
“But it will be great viewing time (in the Caribbean) for the UK this time, and we will be doing everything we can to realise our potential.”