DENTED by the Dutch, humiliated by Ireland and, in the cold light of day, fortunate to have been under-estimated by India, England’s cricketers are on course to mimic their footballing counterparts and exit a World Cup embarrassingly early.
Captain Andrew Strauss insists the dream is still alive, but with South Africa, who have two straightforward wins over West Indies and Holland under their belts, next up on Sunday the smart money is on another crushing defeat.
It’s was a hard task, but City A.M. has managed to come up with three reasons to believe England are capable of pulling off what, on current form, would be significant upset.
l After the battering England’s bowlers have taken so far, the last thing James Anderson and Stuart Broad needed to see was the sight of JP Duminy teeing off against the Dutch. Fortunately, the wicket in Chennai should offer England’s seamers some respite. In the only other match played there so far in the tournament, New Zealand skittled Kenya for 69 in just 23.5 overs. More encouraging, however, is the fact that in the last six one-day internationals the average first innings score is just 220, while the Kiwis were rolled over there for just 103 in December.
l Despite their well-earned reputation as a powerful and perfectly balanced one-day side, South Africa have struggled against England in the 50 over format of late. Incredibly, England have won seven of their last eight ODIs against the Proteas. That includes a 2-1 series win in South Africa the winter before last and a 4-0 win on home turf in 2008.
l Putting Ireland’s defeat of England to one side, scores of two and four for Jacques Kalllis against Holland and West Indies represents the biggest shock of the tournament so far. The fact that South Africa boast one of the most intimidating batting line-ups ever assembled, allied to the fact they’ve faced cannon fodder thus far, has meant Kallis’ failures have been compensated for. AB de Villiers has adjusted brilliantly to the demands of keeping wicket and batting at No4, but he’s been used to coming in with a platform already built. Should Kallis, who remains the side’s linchpin, fall early again, De Villiers may not find life so cosy.