Strauss eager to make amends
England’s excellent recent record in one-day internationals against South Africa will give them confidence to bounce back from defeat to Ireland, according to Andrew Strauss.
England have beaten the Proteas in seven of their last completed eight ODIs, including home and away series wins and victory in the 2009 Champions Trophy group encounter at Centurion.
Strauss, who led England in the Champions Trophy win and the one-day series last winter, said: “We have had a certain amount of success against South Africa in the past, and we fully intend to come out strongly tomorrow.
“The great thing about this tournament is you have a chance to get back on the bike straight away. It’s something as a side we’ve been very good at in the past - bouncing back when we’ve had a poor performance.”
England’s failings have mainly been in the field, where they have often been sloppy and unable to exert sufficient pressure with the ball.
“If you bowl and field poorly you’re likely to lose games of cricket,” Strauss added. “Generally there are going to be a lot of high-scoring games, so any slight edge you can get in the field may make a difference.”
Strauss believes it is detrimental to dwell on what has passed, even if it is only just so.
“I think the first thing to say is the format of the World Cup means you have to put defeat to bed pretty quickly and move on,” he said.
“We now have to focus on South Africa on this wicket, and that’s the way it’s got to be. I think it’s the healthiest thing for a side anyway.”
Strauss is not trying to hide from the fact England’s bowlers have been found wanting so far, but equally he is convinced they can do much better - and must.
“It’s been tough,” he admitted. “Some of our bowlers have had an injury lay-off and are coming back in.
“None of them are happy with their form, but there’s still an opportunity for us to win the World Cup and improve.
“We haven’t done it so far; we need to do it pretty quickly. The most important thing is you retain belief in yourself.
“We haven’t reacted as quickly as we’d like to these conditions - certainly with the ball. We need to react quickly, but I have a huge amount of faith in our players.
“They’ve shown time and time again they can raise themselves for the big occasions - and tomorrow’s a big occasion.”
Strauss is not ruling out changes but is wary of knee-jerk and poorly-considered swaps.
Although Paul Collingwood has been suffering knee trouble, he and a clutch of others with ongoing injuries should be available.
That includes Kevin Pietersen, who will undergo routine surgery for a hernia after the competition but is able to continue playing in the meantime.
“We have a few niggles in our side but we’re certainly hoping we’ll have a full 15 to pick from,” said Strauss.
“You have 15 to choose from, so there’s always a suggestion to make changes - but only if you think it’ll help you. If you do it for the sake of it, that’s a bad route to go down.”