England in Australia 2010-11 January 24, 2011

Stewart believes injuries are a blessing in disguise


The former England captain, Alec Stewart, believes that England's World Cup campaign will not be seriously undermined by the prospect of a series defeat in Australia, so long as the frontline bowlers who are currently absent from the team use the opportunity to recharge their batteries midway through their gruelling winter itinerary.

Stewart, who was England's most-capped one-day cricketer until Paul Collingwood surpassed his tally of 170 appearances, played in four World Cup campaigns from 1992 to 2003, and captained the side on home soil in 1999. On two of those occasions - in the subcontinent in 1995-96, and in South Africa in 2002-03 - the tournament came hot on the heels of gruelling five-match Test series, and that is a pattern that has since been repeated with the World Cup and Ashes falling in the same four-year cycle.

The current team is regarded as England's best one-day outfit since 1992, but they once again appear to be suffering from the demands of an overcrowded itinerary. In the aftermath of an historic Ashes victory, they slumped to consecutive defeats in the opening three fixtures of their one-day campaign, and need to win all four of their remaining matches, starting at Adelaide on Wednesday, if they are to extend a run of 16 unbeaten series in all forms of the game, dating back to their tour of South Africa in November 2009.

"The unfortunate thing is we always go to a World Cup after a long winter, so fatigue is a factor, but you can't hide behind that," Stewart told ESPNcricinfo. "They had a tough Ashes series that they built up to and won, and they've now got seven one-day games before coming home for three days then heading off to Bangladesh. It's pretty full on, but they have to accept it and get on with it - which they will, as they are a very professional outfit now."

In mitigation, England have been missing the services of several players who will expect to slot straight into the starting line-up for their first match of their World Cup campaign, against Netherlands at Nagpur on February 22, and this, according to Stewart, is a blessing in disguise.

Stuart Broad is currently recovering from a stomach muscle injury that he sustained while bowling during the second Ashes Test in early December; James Anderson is set to return to action at Adelaide following a ten-day home visit, while Graeme Swann and Tim Bresnan will play no further part in the ODI series after suffering knee and calf injuries respectively.

"A couple of good things have happened in a roundabout way," said Stewart. "One is Broad's injury, which means he will come back fresh, Anderson will be a little fresher as well, and as long as Bresnan and Swann come through their injuries, in a silly way England will have benefited before going off to the World Cup. I wouldn't say we are favourites by any stretch, but this is a developing one-day side, and I still think we have a chance, because the frontline bowling attack will have had some rest.

"I think England cover most bases," Stewart added. "They are good in the spin department, they have good new-ball bowlers and good reverse-swing bowlers, but I'd like to see if we've got one more person who can hit the ball out the park, which you need to be able to do on the subcontinent. [Eoin] Morgan is tremendous, but we need someone who can clear the boundary ropes consistently, and it's easier said than done finding one. You'd question whether Luke Wright would be in the strongest side, so that's the only area where we may be fractionally light. But it is definitely our best shot."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Martin on January 26, 2011, 12:20 GMT

    @warnerbasher; if there's any misguided optimism coming out of anyone - it's YOU. One of the differences between England and Australia now is that England have got the balls to drop players who are out of form. Ponting, Clarke - these guys should be gone. The Older England player - Collingwood - who retired from Tests - had the grace to do so because he knew he was blocking up a space for another player coming through. Some of Australia's "players" could learn a lesson in humility from him....

  • Haadiyah on January 26, 2011, 0:16 GMT

    For all those picking on England....I thought it wud be interesting to note that Swann, Broad and Anderson are currently in the top 10 bowlers in the world for ODIs.

  • Andrew on January 25, 2011, 22:49 GMT

    @warnerbasher - I agree with your top 4, but the rest of the sides have a lot to play for & usually some side provides some upsets - I think that Bangladesh & Pakistan should not be written off & Zim & Ireland are real chances. NZ can never be underestimated either. I don't rate the Windies much hope, I think they didn't include Nash, but their batting line up still looks good. The Bangars will have 3 or 4 spinners who will bowl most of their overs - 2 of them are match winners Shakib & Razzak. The Poms will do well if KP fires, I don't rate Yardy though & think the locals will feast on his medium paced nude balls!!! (Appalling image that!) I wouldn't mind betting that an outsider makes the Semi's - just hoping it won't be at Oz expense!!!!

  • Ashley on January 25, 2011, 21:43 GMT

    The usual misguided English optimism before a big one day tournament. It only adds to the enjoyment when they fail. And "Paul Rone Clarke" Pietersen integral to the one day team. Wasn't he dropped from it in the last English summer. Not sure that Ponting and Hussey are rubbish. Their ODI records leave your players in the shade. Now for the 10th time South Africa, India, Australia and Sri Lanka will fight out for the WC. The rest not need bother

  • paul on January 25, 2011, 19:00 GMT

    @Paul Rone-Clarke Spot on, the guys who are missing for Oz are neither here or there, Tait's been poor and Johnson's a straight liability, MHussey's a key miss, but when you're playing in your own back yard, in the middle of the season, it's easy to bring in a replacement and the Ozzies have a fair few players who are like for like swaps. I suppose the Ozzies will take out of this as much as they can, after been smashed to bits this summer. These one day series have much more meaning when not tagged on the end of a 2 month tour, just look back to 2006/7, when England beat Oz in the one day series after the Ashes, they shouldn't have stood a chance, but they lack the intensity they should ,especially by the winners of the Ashes.

  • Lou on January 25, 2011, 17:34 GMT

    Gilly4ever,Shaun Marsh was hardly a surprise exclusion from the World Cup side. He's always been in and out of the squad through injury or lack of space.

    He should be an automatic pick in t20 for Aus though, I still don't understand how he never gets matches in that format.

  • V.L on January 25, 2011, 14:12 GMT

    A 7 match ODI series ahead of the world cup that runs until the near start of it is folly. It will only lead to lots of niggles and injuries , thereby depriving Eng and Aus of their key player in crucial times. What the guys at CA thinking?

  • Martin on January 25, 2011, 12:06 GMT

    @Paul Rone-Clarke; Spot on. @phoenixsteve; I dunno - seen lots of false dawns for England in ODI. Wasn't that long ago we put South Africa away on their own soil. I don't think England are going to win the World Cup - but unless we rest our best players we certainly won't. I don't mind getting whipped 7-0 in this - got what we came for didn't we? Australia conversely seem to think they have turned into world beaters (it was ever thus). Can't think what they are basing that on!

  • Dummy4 on January 25, 2011, 9:35 GMT

    The players Australia are missing are rubbish. "scattergun" Johnson being about the only one worth a game - and even then on a bad day (i.e 2 out of 3) he's a liability. Tate was not good in the T20 and OD's he played. Sure the crowd all "ooh" and "ahh" when they see the speedo hit 96+MPH - but looks at his stats. He was the most expensive bowler and took no wickets. Aussies best move was bringing back a pro like Brett Lee. The guy should have played the ashes period. A class act, great bowling action, good control. Johnson and Tate are nice and fast - but just fodder. Thick outside edge? - 4 runs. Mistimed hook? 6 runs, A ball on target? - once a month. Swann, Broad, Pietersen, Bresnan are all integral to the OD side for England. and why they are still picking Prior is anyone guess. Let's see if his series aggregate gets into single figures in the next one shall we.

  • Richard on January 25, 2011, 9:31 GMT

    I agree it could be a blessing in disguise. However as far as The World Cup always being immediately after a long winter etc etc. I think the same applies to Australia, and they always seem to win it!!

    Its a long time to be living out of a suitcase (in 5 star luxury tho' - poor little darlings), I guess. But most county cricketers play a lot more crcicket in 3 months during an English summer, than they have. N

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