ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
World Cup 2011
Gooch believes title is within England's grasp
March 21, 2011
Graham Gooch, England's batting coach, believes that the current squad has the character and ability to go one better than the teams he was involved with during his playing days, and lift the World Cup for the first time in the country's history.
Gooch played in three World Cups in the course of his 20-year England career, but lost in the final on each occasion - against West Indies at Lord's in 1979, against Australia at Eden Gardens in 1987, and most gallingly of all, against Pakistan at Melbourne in 1992, when he was captain.
"Winning a World Cup didn't happen for me," Gooch told reporters ahead of the team's flight to Colombo for their quarter-final against Sri Lanka. "But it's a great honour to be involved with the England side. When you come up as a youngster you dream about playing for your country. I was fortunate enough to do that - and now to be asked to help other players, who are representing their country, is a great thrill."
But as part of the management structure of the class of 2011, Gooch believes that the players who scraped into the quarter-finals are battle-hardened and ready to raise their games in the knockout stages of the tournament. The very fact that they had to fight so hard to escape from a tough Group B will, he feels, be to their advantage.
"They've shown their fighting qualities and their resilience," he said. "The objective was to get into the knockout stages. We've made that, we've scraped through, and we're not going to look back. We're going to look forward to the next challenge. I hope this team have got it within them to win the World Cup - and I'm convinced they have."
"We know we can improve, we know we've got better cricket within our team. Our guys need to concentrate on that," he added. "Each individual has got to commit to his game to be part of our team framework for the big match. We can get better, and if we do we have as good a chance as anyone else."
Often, success in World Cups is as much about peaking at the right moment as it is about sheer quality, as Gooch himself knows only too well, after his team set the standard for the 1992 tournament, only to run out of steam just as Pakistan were hitting their best form ahead of the final. Likewise, Australia had to overcome a dreadful start to their campaign in 1999, before sealing the title with a run of seven unbeaten matches in a row.
Having shaded West Indies by 18 runs in Chennai, England's challenge is now to win three games in a row, starting with Saturday's showdown in Colombo. And before that match gets underway, there are plenty of selection posers for Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss to consider, among them Ian Bell's potential shift up the batting order in place of Matt Prior.
"Having opened the batting myself, I think it's a special place to play - and I think every batsman should aspire to open the batting in one-day cricket," said Gooch. "Why wouldn't you want 50 overs to bat? Why would you want to come in halfway down? You want to set the tone. You want to set up the game. If you open the batting in one-day cricket, you have a chance to make a mark and set the direction of your team."
Either way, Gooch insisted that England would not be panicked into wholesale changes. "You look at each game individually," he added. "Our batting fired in the early matches, then we've been short of a few runs on lower-scoring pitches in exciting games. We just need to get that quantity of runs to be competitive. Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss will look at the batting order, once we've seen the conditions, and decide what's our best way forward."
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