Flower promises considered approach
Team director Andy Flower has revealed England will take time to examine the reasons behind their World Cup exit.
England flew home from the sub-continent today, 24 hours after suffering a painful 10-wicket defeat to co-hosts Sri Lanka in the quarter-finals.
As is usually the case following a major tournament, many observers have been quick to offer their opinions on England’s efforts.
Flower, who always says only what he means and wants to say, knows the value of thought before utterance - and he will wait before he specifies why he thinks the team failed to achieve their goal.
“I don’t want to talk too much about those reasons right now,” he said. “We came here to win a World Cup and we are now not going to do that.
“To lose out in the quarter-finals, even though we’ve been beaten soundly, is very disappointing - and we didn’t want to go home right now.
“I think it’s best that we travel home, clear our heads and then we can look back on the last few months and review it properly - and probably with a cleaner set of eyes and a clearer mind.”
One issue that will certainly need to be addressed is England’s lack of consistency.
Andrew Strauss’ side produced thrilling comebacks to beat South Africa and West Indies - and also excelled with the bat, for the majority of their innings at least, in a dramatic tie with India.
However, their performances were not nearly as impressive in shock defeats to Ireland and Bangladesh, while the emphatic nature of Sri Lanka’s triumph in Colombo certainly provided cause for concern.
England also struggled in the one-day series in Australia that followed their historic Ashes victory and preceded the World Cup, and Flower added: “We’ve been pretty inconsistent in our limited-overs performances in recent months. We haven’t delivered the skills that are necessary in these sort of conditions.”
“We’ve played some decent stuff, but in the main we’ve not done enough to get in the final weeks of the tournament.
“To be honest, we didn’t deserve to get there because we haven’t played well enough.”
England were lauded just under a year ago for their meticulous planning and execution of the required skills as they at last won a maiden global trophy, at the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean.
Yet Flower is aware there is work to do if they are to settle upon the ideal formula in 50-over cricket and concedes England played with uncertainty as they exited the tournament.
“They’re different forms of the game, obviously, and the 50-over game is more like a game of chess than the Twenty20,” he said.
“This match (against Sri Lanka) was a very good example of playing with fear. “We were very tentative; we had a very poor start, and now we have paid the price for that tentativeness.”
Skipper Strauss, meanwhile, has welcomed the future rescheduling which means that England, or fellow quarter-final losers Australia, will not be asked to play an Ashes and a World Cup in the same winter.
But he will not be suckered into dressing that up as the reason for another early departure by England from a competition they have still yet to win after 10 attempts.
“It’s a huge amount to ask players to tour Australia for three months, the highest-intensity cricket for an English team, and then go straight into a World Cup without spending any time at home,” Strauss said.
“The scheduling is not good and doesn’t give you the best chance. But that’s not an excuse for not doing well here.
“You’ve still got to go out and play, and each team starts at nought for nought at the beginning of the game.
“But clearly lessons have been learnt, and that cycle is changing. It would have been good if it had changed before this one.”