England proved they’re contenders

Andy Lloyd
IF THERE was any lingering doubt about England’s ability to sustain a genuine challenge at this World Cup, then they were emphatically dispelled against India on Sunday.

The co-hosts are rightly favourites, but that was their best side and we would’ve won had Stuart Broad not been ill and Eoin Morgan injured. Too many people read far too much into the 6-1 defeat in Australia and, while that wasn’t ideal, critics should have been wise enough not to put too much stock on that result. England had accomplished their main objective Down Under and they were entitled to take their eye off the ball.

Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss will know that if England are to go all the way then there is still room for improvement, especially in the bowling and fielding departments.

But we are now judging this side on the standards they have set for themselves. We know they are capable of achieving them.

As expected, conditions are favouring the batsmen and world class performers like Jimmy Anderson are being made to look ordinary. I?think England, and the leader of their attack in particular, need to rethink their strategy.

Anderson is bowling an off-stump line, hoping for a bit of away movement that will bring the slips into play. Other than in his first over against India, when he could’ve had Virender Sehwag out with his first delivery, he failed to move the ball off the pitch or through the air.

That’s not down to any lack of skill, we know he’s a real star, but bowling in the subcontinent is different to anywhere else in the world and you need to adjust accordingly.

Anderson needs to take a leaf out of Tim Bresnan’s book and bowl straighter, bring LBW into play and starve batsmen of the width they thrive on there. Anderson’s job should be about containment and building pressure, rather than looking to bowl the magic balls he so regularly produced during the Ashes.

It’s not nice to see a guy like Paul Collingwood struggling, but he really needs to be bringing something to the party, with the ball as much as the bat, if he’s to maintain his place.

His slow off-cutters should provide a real option in these conditions, but with his confidence drained, it appears Strauss doesn’t trust him with the ball. I expect Ravi Bopara, who rescued us against Holland, to take his place as the tournament reaches its later stages.