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England in Australia 2010-11

Stewart believes injuries are a blessing in disguise

Andrew Miller

January 24, 2011

Comments: 25 | Text size: A | A

Stuart Broad was ruled out of England's Ashes tour by a torn abdominal muscle, Australia v England, 2nd Test, Adelaide, 4th day, December 6, 2010
Stuart Broad has been inactive since December, and will expect to be fresh for the subcontinent © Getty Images
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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

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by 5wombats 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....

Posted by Manaal95 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.

Posted by Meety 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!!!!

Posted by warnerbasher 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

Posted by Trickstar 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.

Posted by Winsome 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.

Posted by maddy20 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?

Posted by 5wombats 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!

Posted by   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.

Posted by Narkovian 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

Posted by Icyman on (January 25, 2011, 8:35 GMT)

Playing a 7 match ODI series is totally meaningless. It is high time that cricket boards understand the need for their players to be fit before a mega event. Boards easily tend to give in to pressurizing tactics being employed by the broadcasters and thus cannot field second string teams when they want to.

Posted by Something_Witty on (January 25, 2011, 7:21 GMT)

@Gilly4ever, how do you figure White has been captain? He's not even VC. If there's one thing I can't really fault Clarke on lately, it's been his shrewd captaincy and sensible field placements.

Posted by anver777 on (January 25, 2011, 7:17 GMT)

I totally agree with Stewart's comments ....Currently Eng is a much better & stronger ODI team in the world !!!!!!!! too much cricket is being played these days & also long Aus tour had somewhat hampered their abilities in the current ODI series but like he said hope Eng will be in full strength in WC !!!!

Posted by vswami on (January 25, 2011, 6:49 GMT)

You can spin any news whichever way you want. Why does injury become a blessing in disguise ? Does that mean the army of backroom staff is unable to identify the optimum amount of cricket to keep the players fresh ? Should the injured player have a bad WC game, the same expert will come out and say lack of match practice before the WC was the issue.

Posted by   on (January 25, 2011, 6:02 GMT)

you seem to missed the point to landl australia have like 4 or 5 if not more injuries so they aren't at full strength either are THEY

Posted by   on (January 25, 2011, 5:55 GMT)

i think england will be more spiny if morgan keeps and wright opens with straussy

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (January 25, 2011, 5:53 GMT)

Injuries can be useful in showcasing players who should be in the team, such as Australia showing Xavier Doherty and Shaun Marsh, both of whom were surprise exclusions from the World Cup squad. A couple more injuries could showcase Brad Hodge and Dan Christian too and further strengthen the squad. For England, they have no bench strength and hence their injuries have shown just how brittle they are. It is good to get the wakeup call that they are far from the best team in world cricket. But, more importantly, it is also good that England realise that most of their success was based around playing against a poor captain (Ponting) while if they are up against a quality tactician like Cameron White (who has effectively been captain, even if Clarke has taken credit for it) then they lose. If England go to the World Cup with a single injury and/or come up against a quality captain, they are going to crumble, like they did here.

Posted by Meety on (January 25, 2011, 5:11 GMT)

@phoenixsteve - ease up on the arrogance bit mate - their hasn't been much grace & humility flowing from you Poms lately! Also I'd say that your 1st point generally goes the other way & losing creates pressure (just ask Punter). Your 2nd point often runs the way of my 1st point rebuff. 3rd point not very valid given you only have 15 players to begin with (for the W/Cup). I do agree that YOU should " hope for the best and be prepared for the worst". LOL!

Posted by Meety on (January 25, 2011, 5:05 GMT)

I think the "long winter" excuse is crap & I hope is not a weak attempt for a ready made excuse. The 5 Test Ashes series factor didin't stop Oz in 2007 or 2003 & in 1999 Oz played 3 x 3 Tests in a relative short period in the lead up to the W/C. Injuries will hurt England as the current series has important match scenario practise. Results aside - Oz is making very good use of the series so far, the silver lining for the Poms is that it means that players like Shahzad, Trott, Bresnan & Yardy can gain valuable experience under pressure. @landl47 - I agree re: Collingwood, I'd say that ODI #3 proved why he should be in the side (bowling). I think it also proved why Yardy shouldn't be. Yardy is a good T20 bowler - but once a batsmen gets 4 overs of him they have him in their sights. So far the longer he bowls the more he gets hammered & SRT, Sanga & co will be licking their lips. I think Tredwell needs to be looked at instead.

Posted by Something_Witty on (January 25, 2011, 5:04 GMT)

@landl, you're right about England lacking a genuine allrounder. Pity that Watson isn't South African huh? :P I'm not sure how much differently things would have played out even if Anderson/Swann/Broad were the bowlers in the first three games. England's bowling has not been the problem, their batsmen have let them down twice now, while in the first game, they should have made 320+ on a flat pitch with the great start they got.

Posted by nzcricket174 on (January 25, 2011, 4:53 GMT)

Have you forgotten that Australia have been playing the same series as England have been all these times? And have you forgotten that each time since 1999 they have won it? I think the English team don't have the stamina. So what is said in this article is true, that the main boys need to have rest.

Posted by Nadeem1976 on (January 25, 2011, 4:32 GMT)

Hay English people, you got to win your first ODI worldcup for that you dont need to think about injuries , rest or what ever the situation is.

Main concern should be to win the worldcup wether you are fit, injured or out of form.

Who cares if you are fresh or not, if you cannot perform in big match.

Class is permanent and form is temporary therefore show some class in WC to win it otherwise no blessing in desgise what so ever.

Other teams are waiting too.

Posted by phoenixsteve on (January 25, 2011, 1:38 GMT)

Interesting stuff from Stewie who was a really great player and a wonderful ambassador for the English game. Problem is that the batters seem to be losing their wonderful form. It could (and should) come back but in the meantime England are getting beaten. The "blessing in disguise" might be three fold..... 1) England losing will take expectations away and hence take pressure off 2) Losing can be a grounding experience and result in a team with more resove and determination (AKA Hunger) 3) The defeats will expose the Ann Robinson players and maybe make team selection self evident? Let's hope for the best and be prepared for the worst. After all England are not THAT good YET? Complacency and arrogance are seductive bedfellows - just ask the Aussies! India must be favorites, but any 1 of about 6 teams have real chances IF they perfrom. COME ON ENGLAND!!!

Posted by landl47 on (January 25, 2011, 1:12 GMT)

You seem to have missed the point, Gilly4ever. Injuries have hurt England in this series, but assuming the injured players recover in time for the World Cup, they will be fresher for having had some rest. I think England have a chance in the WC if Colly regains some batting form. Without him to contribute with both bat and ball, England has to go in light in either batting or bowling. The second ODI in this series, when Strauss was a seamer short, showed what a disadvantage that can be, and the third ODI, when Colly couldn't stick around against straight slow bowling, showed that batting one light is a problem, too.

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (January 25, 2011, 0:24 GMT)

Injuries are a help to Australia for sure but not for England. It is a help for Australia because our selectors are so terrible. England have good selectors so injuries really hurt them.

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Andrew Miller Andrew Miller was saved from a life of drudgery in the City when his car caught fire on the way to an interview. He took this as a sign and fled to Pakistan where he witnessed England's historic victory in the twilight at Karachi (or thought he did, at any rate - it was too dark to tell). He then joined Wisden Online in 2001, and soon graduated from put-upon photocopier to a writer with a penchant for comment and cricket on the subcontinent. In addition to Pakistan, he has covered England tours in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007
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