England captain Andrew Strauss has predicted an upturn in his side’s one-day fortunes at the World Cup when he expects to finally have his first-choice attack at his disposal.
Strauss returned to London on Tuesday after England’s 6-1 defeat in the recent one-day series in Australia still insisting his team could match anyone in the world when their frontline bowlers were available.
Graeme Swann, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad and Ajmal Shahzad, all members of the World Cup squad, plus Chris Tremlett, who is a reserve, were missing for all or part of the beating in Australia.
But Strauss expects them to be firing and giving England a much-needed lift ahead of their first World Cup fixture, against the Netherlands in Nagpur on February 22.
“Our bowling attack has been the basis of a lot of our one-day victories over the last 12 or 18 months, Strauss told reporters at Heathrow Airport here on Tuesday.
“We have had a settled bowling unit who really know their roles really well and have bowled very well in tandem together.
“There is no doubt we missed that in Australia and I believe our bowling attack is a match for anyone in the world.
“They should be fit but they need to find some rhythm pretty quickly and the batsmen need to do their job,” the left-handed opener added.
“The atmosphere at the World Cup is going to be very intoxicating and very motivating. All the best players in the world will be there and ultimately only one team is going to walk away with that World Cup.
“We would have liked to have won the one-day series in Australia as preparation, but some of our players who have not been involved have had an opportunity to have a little bit of a rest through the fact that they were injured,” Strauss explained.
“They are going to come back into the fold and add a huge amount of impetus.”
England’s collapse in the one-day series took the shine off their Ashes triumph and Strauss has urged his side, some of whom won the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean last year, to go on and claim the World Cup.
England have not won the International Cricket Council’s showpiece event, despite appearing in three finals, and Strauss told his team that lifting the trophy would crown the best six months of their career.
He added: “We didn’t do as well as we would have liked in the one-dayers and we won’t hide away from that. Our aim when we went to Australia was to retain the Ashes and the fact that we did that and the style in which we did it speaks volumes for the players.
“But the nature of international cricket is you always move onto the next thing. When we are old and grey we will sit down and look over the footage of that Ashes series and still be very proud of what we achieved.
“It will go as one of the highlights if not the highlight of our careers. But now is not the time to look back on it.
“If we were to complete the double of an Ashes win and a World Cup win in the space of six months that certainly would be the highlight of all our careers.”
England head to the subcontinent without batsman Eoin Morgan who was ruled out with a broken finger and coach Andy Flower repeated his criticisms of a gruelling schedule that has left several of his players nursing injuries.
They fly to Bangladesh on Saturday ahead of two warm-up games with Flower hitting out at an itinerary that gives England’s players just four nights at home in between coming back from the Ashes and travelling to the World Cup.
“We have played three-and-a-half-months of high intensity cricket and it is inevitable you will pick up injuries.
“But to have the tour ending just before the World Cup starts doesn’t make a lot of sense to me,” the former Zimbabwe batsman added. “So that is a very simple lesson to be learned.”