England ponder options
England travel to Durban considering changing the make-up of their top order as they attempt to preserve an interest in the ICC World Twenty20.
Sunday’s 19-run defeat to South Africa at Newlands has set up a straightforward formula - beat New Zealand at Kingsmead on Tuesday or face elimination at the Super Eight stage of the tournament.
To achieve their objective, England must first solve the problem of the shaky starts that have seen them consistently lose early wickets, undermining their ability to post major totals.
In all three matches in the tournament, they have lost wickets inside the first six overs of fielding restrictions and captain Paul Collingwood admitted: “An area we need to look at is our starts - we’re losing too many wickets early doors.
“We know what we have to do from now on - we have to win our next two games, it’s as simple as that.
“We usually respond pretty positively in these situations and I’m sure the boys will be wanting to do that. We’re not down and out as yet and I’m sure we’ll get a good response from all of them.”
Luke Wright appears the most vulnerable member of England’s top three, having scored only three runs in three innings during the tournament and faced just 11 balls.
Vikram Solanki is the obvious alternative to come in as a replacement, although Collingwood remains convinced Wright has the ability to succeed once he learns how to adapt to international cricket.
“He’ll have to keep learning,” said Collingwood. “He’s a very talented kid.
“He’s got the ability once he gets in, he just hasn’t got in at the moment and he needs to give himself a chance to get in.
“He’ll learn quickly from these type of experiences but our starts are an area we will have to have a look at.”
Collingwood’s frustration at England’s failure to beat South Africa was compounded by several catches being put down.
The captain was himself involved in a mix-up with Owais Shah in the deep which could have removed Albie Morkel for 14. He went on to hammer 43 off 20 balls.
That was one of a number of errors which allowed the hosts to reach a competitive total and Collingwood admitted it is another area England will have to work on if they are to progress.
“The areas where we’re off the pace at the moment is our fielding and our catching especially, and that’s disappointing,” he added.
“We haven’t played a hell of a lot of floodlit cricket and it is different. We’ve come across from England without a lot of preparation with regards to playing under lights.”
South Africa also travel to Durban in preparation for Wednesday’s game against New Zealand knowing they are now in charge of their own destiny after winning the first game in the group.
“The way the groups are set up, winning your first game is going to be important,” said captain Graeme Smith.
“If you lose that first one, you come under a lot of pressure and I’ve told the team that we’ve taken a big step forward by beating England.
“It’s important we carry on working when we go to Durban, where we have another two games.
“We’ve played some good cricket there over the years and it’s a place we like to play at so hopefully we can take our confidence into those games.”