Flower calls for repeat dose
Coach Andy Flower hopes England can thrive in their role of underdogs once more and tomorrow book a Champions Trophy semi-final place.
Victory over hosts South Africa in a day-night encounter at Centurion would send England into the final four at the earliest opportunity.
Beating South Africa, who were pre-tournament favourites, will be a tall order but England have made a habit recently of winning when not fancied.
They arrived in South Africa as one of the outsiders, given their one-day defeat to Australia, but humbled Sri Lanka at the Wanderers on Friday night to boost the chances of progress from Group B.
“Look, we are huge underdogs going into tomorrow,” said Flower.
“Everyone realises that. It doesn’t mean we can’t win the game - we were underdogs going into the game against Sri Lanka, we were underdogs going into the Ashes series - but we will have to be right on top of our game to do so.”
Flower went on a scouting mission to assess the pitch in Pretoria this morning and discovered it to be considerably dry, despite being new.
That will encourage turn and increase the chances of leg-spinner Adil Rashid being drafted into the side.
The six-wicket success over Sri Lanka threw the group wide open but the impact England have made on the tournament extends beyond their performance.
Captain Andrew Strauss’ decision to recall Angelo Mathews following his collision with Graham Onions, going for a second run, has won many friends.
“Strauss is a good man and I trust him completely,” Flower said.
England have never won a global tournament and their chances of doing so in South Africa have been made harder by the absence of Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff, their two star players, through Achilles and knee injuries respectively.
Of the missing two, Flower said: “The players are not giving that a moment’s thought. Neither am I.
“When those guys come back it will strengthen our side, there is no doubt about that but we don’t discuss it.
“At the moment this is our 15 and they have got the responsibility to win the games for England.”
Paul Collingwood provided England’s chase of 213 against the Sri Lankans with real impetus, cracking three sixes in his 46, while Owais Shah hit 44 and Eoin Morgan an unbeaten 62 to signify a return to form for the middle order.
However, the revamp of the top six, which resulted in Shah’s promotion to number three, also included the axe for Ravi Bopara.
Bopara has been described as a rough diamond that England have yet to get the best out of.
And Flower said: “He’s very talented, and he’s a good friend of mine, actually, but the polishing has to be done by himself.
“He’s a hard worker, there’s no doubt about it, he works very hard but results on the park are what count and in his job it is runs.”