David GraveneyPhoto © AllSport UK
England leave for Kenya today (Thursday) determined to continue their rebuilding process. After a summer that saw Test series victories over Zimbabwe and West Indies, and success in the Triangular Tournament, the team face an even more testing 12 months.
The challenge begins with The ICC KnockOut Trophy in Kenya, before leading to Pakistan for further one-day internationals, and a Test series. There is then a break of about a month before the tour of Sri Lanka. If that were not tough enough, next season sees an early Pakistan tour followed by the all-important Ashes contest.
England have already come along way since the disappointments of the World Cup, and defeat at the hands of New Zealand, but Chairman of Selectors David Graveney is keen that nobody should get carried away by this summer success.
"I don't think anyone will forget the pain and anguish that was felt at the way we played in the World Cup, but the encouraging progress during the one-day tournament in South Africa and the manner in which we won the triangular this summer means we can go to Kenya with confidence," he stated.
"We are by no means the finished article, and I think we are still an improving side which has the odd hiccup when we lose games we should win. This tournament will be valuable experience for us."
"It is an unusual situation because it is a straight knockout, whereas the World Cup is played on a group basis. We will have to enter the tournament running and there is little room for error."
"But this is a trophy to be won. We want to build on the progress we made this summer by going there, being successful and continuing the momentum we have created."
Bangladesh are England's first opponents, on October 5th, with England starting that game as firm favourites. If they come through that they will face an altogether tougher match against South Africa.
Conditions are expected to favour batsmen; a far cry from the summer's moist surfaces. "Most of our players have little experience of these conditions," continued Graveney, "and it will be a great learning curve for them."
"It's a huge challenge ahead of us. We expect it to reverse swing, so players like Gough and White should be useful. If we can build on the success of the summer it would be a great achievement."
"None of the players, management or backroom staff would be presumptuous enough to believe we have cracked it, but this winter's tour will be a good guide as to where we stand at present."