England are determined back-to-back defeats and the threat of a first whitewash on home soil since 2006 will make no difference to their attacking intent against New Zealand today.
Ian Bell warns this is no time for him and his one-day international team-mates to lose their nerve, just before England begin their latest attempt to win a first 50-over global tournament with their Champions Trophy opener against Australia at Edgbaston coming up on Saturday.
First, of course, at Trent Bridge , hey must try to stop their losing run against the Kiwis – in a match expected after all to feature Stuart Broad and possibly Steven Finn, too, after England’s two frontline seamers yesterday bowled off their full runs in the Nottingham nets, despite their respective knee and shin injuries.
With or without them, Bell insists England’s first home defeat in an ODI series since 2009 will not compromise their self-belief.
“We have a method of winning cricket in these conditions, so it’s important to stick to that and be positive,” he said. “We don’t want to go back into our shells. English cricket, certainly in one-day form, has taken so many strides forward – and we don’t want to go backwards now. We want to be as positive as we can be.”
England’s untimely blip, with defeats at Lord’s last week and then the Ageas Bowl, has been characterised by a series of regrettable shots from specialist batsmen. Only Jonathan Trott, in his unbeaten century on Sunday, has managed to turn any of 15 double-figure scores into anything better than his own 37 in the first match.
Opener Bell accepts he himself has been a prime offender, when it comes to getting in and out. “It’s been frustrating,” he said. “All of us feel in good form, but we’ve done the hard yards and got out. In the last couple of years, people have gone on and got big runs – which allow our bowling attack to defend good scores. Or, when we’ve chased, someone in the top four has had the responsibility to go through.Trotty did it two days ago, but we need more of it.”
There was mitigation in the 86-run defeat in Southampton, in that batsmen had to take chances in what proved a vain pursuit of the second-highest run target in ODI history. “Chasing 360, you need maybe two guys getting hundreds, two or three with fifty-plus scores,” said Bell. “That’s not happened for a while, and it’s been frustrating. But the guys still feel in pretty good touch. I still believe we have the flexibility in that XI to chase big runs. We can do that, definitely.”
England had problems, too, in their most recent outing with the ball, only part-time off-spinner Joe Root able to concede fewer than six runs an over on a very good batting surface.
Today’s options include a possible debut for Bell’s Warwickshire team-mate Boyd Rankin. The tall Irishman is renowned for his bounce when he gets it right.
“Facing him in the nets is absolutely horrible,” said Bell. “I didn’t enjoy it too much today. It’s great to see him charging in in an England shirt. If an opportunity comes to him I hope it goes really well.”
Broad, too, looked to be moving easily again yesterday.
India crush woeful Aussies
DINESH Karthik’s stunning century and a fine bowling spell by Umesh Yadav helped India wrap up their Champions Trophy preparations with a crushing 243-run warm-up victory over Australia in Cardiff.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s side had looked in trouble when reduced to 55 for five at the start of the 16th over after winning the toss and electing to bat. But Karthik (146 not out off 140 balls) and Dhoni (91 off 77) put on a 211-run partnership to help India reach 308 for six from their 50 overs. Australia’s reply never got going as Yadav ripped through their top order, taking five for 18, as they subsided to 65 all out. By comparison, their worst score in an official one-day international is 70.
It capped a bad day for Australia, with captain Michael Clarke set to head to London for specialist treatment on his lower-back injury. But George Bailey, who led the side yesterday in Clarke’s absence, said: “It is just precautionary with him. He has had some stiffness. The plan is for him to play [against England] on Saturday.”