Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Bold Vaughan Must Make Us an Instant Hit

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Bold Vaughan Must Make Us an Instant Hit

Article excerpt

Byline: JONATHAN AGNEW

THE importance of England's opening match in the World Cup tomorrow cannot be underestimated.

New Zealand, their opponents, are being viewed by some as having a more than decent chance of winning the tournament and the two points at stake will be carried forward into the second stage.

But what England need more than anything is the confidence that an early victory would give them.

You only have to look at the reaction of the West Indies players at Sabina Park when they took the final Pakistan wicket to complete their easy win to see how much of a hurdle the first match represents.

Having dealt with the only serious opposition in their group, they can start a confidence-building roll by demolishing Ireland and Zimbabwe. They should hit the Super Eight stage running.

And that must be England's aim.

They know all about the Kiwis and the danger fast bowler Shane Bond represents. He has one of the best averages and strike-rates in the history of one-day internationals and is a handful with the new ball.

Jacob Oram, an explosive lowerorder hitter, is recovering from injury but, having beaten Australia so emphatically three-nil last month, Stephen Fleming's team will believe they can dispose of anyone.

Two areas of England's game worry me. In Michael Vaughan, Ed Joyce and Ian Bell, the top three batsmen are all naturally accumulators rather than players who can freely hit over the top.

During the three power plays, which are generally taken in the first 20 overs, it is essential the batting side looks for boundaries. The pressure must be placed firmly on the fielding team during those periods but England's record in this department is hopeless.

Of the three, I suspect it will be Vaughan who has to be bold and strike the ball in the air. But because this is foreign to him, it is fraught with danger. I would like to see Kevin Pietersen padded up and ready to go in if the first wicket falls early. …

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