Confident Strauss eyes success
Andrew Strauss is hoping England can take world cricket by surprise again, in pursuit of only their second global trophy - just as they did when they broke their duck last year.
Strauss was absent, following his retirement from the shortest form of international cricket, when Paul Collingwood led England to the ICC World Twenty20 title in the Caribbean.
After 25 years of previous failure in International Cricket Council events, England arrived in Bangladesh today intent on doubling up with a maiden World Cup success.
Nine previous attempts have foundered - some haplessly, like the last one in the West Indies, others with pride intact after near misses.
Strauss’ team hardly raised expectation of better during the 6-1 one-day international defeat which concluded in Australia last week, following the high of Ashes victory Down Under.
But the captain believes if they bring back their Caribbean A game - from 2010, not 2007 - his England can adapt their significant talent to the demands of 50-over sub-continental cricket better than the rest.
It is likely to be a roller-coaster ride for their supporters too, because the hints from Strauss are that England will be committed to adventurous cricket - having faltered too often through undue caution.
“We’re here to win it, and we feel like we’ve got an excellent chance,” he said.
“We’re excited about it, and I think the guys took a lot of confidence from the fact we won that [ICC World] Twenty20.
“The guys know they can do it on the big stage, under pressure, which is an important hurdle to overcome.
“We’ve got some pretty firm ideas about how we want to go about our cricket here, and we hope we take some other sides by surprise by doing that.”
The consensus was that England out-thought as well as outplayed the opposition in the West Indies last April and May - and Strauss, fresh from his and coach Andy Flower’s masterminding of a first Ashes series win in Australia for almost a quarter-of-a-century, knows brawn will again be no good without brain.
“We’re going to have to play well on the sub-continent - something English sides haven’t done brilliantly in the past - but I think we have the raw materials, a lot of talent in our squad and guys who can play expansive cricket and aggressive cricket.
“We’re going to need to do that over the course of the next six or seven weeks.”
Strauss has also put a positive spin on the recent beating at the hands of World Cup holders Australia - reasoning the 6-1 reverse against a country who have won the last three 50-over titles was offset by a rash of minor, and timely, injuries to several first-choice players.
Graeme Swann, Paul Collingwood, Ajmal Shahzad and Tim Bresnan all had to leave Australia early but are expected to be fit by the time the serious action starts on the sub-continent.
Stuart Broad, absent with an abdominal tear since the Adelaide Test more than two months ago, is also raring to go again - meaning only key middle-order batsman Eoin Morgan, among the recent injury victims, will miss the main event.
“The 6-1 defeat to Australia was not ideal,” Strauss conceded.
“But in some ways we might have benefited from the fact that five or six of our players picked up some injuries and therefore had an opportunity to rest for two or three weeks - and we’ve got a lot of in-built confidence from the cricket we’ve played over the last 18 months.
“I hope we’ve learned some lessons about what we didn’t do well in Australia. But these are very different conditions, and a lot of our personnel are going to be different in this World Cup.
“You’re allowed to experience defeat at times. In some ways, it can be a huge motivating factor for you - as long as it doesn’t erode your confidence too much, and I don’t think it has in our case.”
Strauss’ England will be counselled against the diffidence and distractions which put them all at sea in the last World Cup, when their current captain was among the rank and file under Michael Vaughan.
“The whole campaign for us in 2007 was a poor one,” he said.
“We didn’t start well, never got going, played a very conservative brand of cricket. I hope we’ve learned lessons from it - as we did from the 2006/07 Ashes series - and won’t repeat those mistakes.”