ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
England v West Indies, World Cup 2011, Chennai
Strauss dismisses fatigue factor
Siddarth Ravindran in Chennai
March 16, 2011
"This is a good time to play England, they have been on the road a long time, in order to stay on in India they have to win," West Indies captain Darren Sammy said on Wednesday, before joking, "Maybe some of them want to go home to their families, you never know."
Much has been made of the England team having spent only four days at home since late October when they departed to Australia for a dominant Ashes campaign. The continuous crush of high-profile cricket combined with the heat and humidity of the subcontinent seems to have taken its toll on the squad, with a string of players picking up fitness problems.
The fast bowler Ajmal Shahzad is the latest casualty, missing Wednesday's practice session at the MA Chidambaram Stadium after falling ill. It is still unclear whether he will recover in time for the must-win match against West Indies on Thursday. "We are not sure at this stage whether that will affect Shahzad's chances of being selected for tomorrow," England captain Andrew Strauss said. Shahzad had taken three wickets in the match against Bangladesh in Chittagong on Friday, and his possible absence increases the chances of James Anderson retaining his place in the XI.
There was better news for England regarding two other key players who were struggling with their fitness, with Strauss and offspinner Graeme Swann both recovering from the stomach bug that preventing them from training on Tuesday. "I'm feeling very well, I was a bit laid low day before night and yesterday morning," Strauss said. "Swann is also recovering well, should be practising today, don't know if he is quite as buoyant as I am, very confident that he'll be fine for tomorrow."
Their most consistent batsman of the tournament, Jonathan Trott, had also been a member of their sick list earlier this week before recovering from a fever. These concerns are in addition to losing influential players Stuart Broad and Kevin Pietersen to injuries. Pietersen's tweet outlining the bright side to his injury added to the claims of homesickness. "Well, as frustrated as I am to be missing the rest of the World Cup & IPL, I'll be at home with my family & friends, I haven't been home properly since 29 Oct.," he had written after being ruled out of the tournament.
Strauss, though, was adamant the time way from home and the amount of cricket England have played over the past six months were not affecting their performance. "We have been on the road for a long time, but fatigue is the last thing on our mind," he said. "Potentially we have got four more games to play before a nice, long break."
The illnesses were common for teams touring the subcontinent, he said. "It's happened to a lot of the sides in this tournament, that guys go down. It's par for the course in this part of the world, we try and take all the precautions, but these things can strike at any stage."
He said the motivation of keeping the campaign for a first World Cup alive was motivation enough for his side. "We know what the prize there is. We are determined to make the most of the opportunity and take that prize," he said. "Fatigue is not an issue for us at the moment, and it won't be until right at the end of the tournament."
The end of the tournament could come as early as Thursday, giving Strauss' team two extra weeks of rest at home, unless they round off their league phase with a win against West Indies and results out of their control go their way.