Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The World Cup's Coming ... and This Time We're in with a Shout

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The World Cup's Coming ... and This Time We're in with a Shout

Article excerpt

Byline: Tom Collomosse

DEJECTED at seeing their team knocked out of the World Cup, supporters of English sport can seek solace in following the nation's cricketers. After years of mediocrity in the limited-overs game, England are quickly becoming one of the strongest one-day sides in the world.

The NatWest Series is already in the bag after victories over Australia at The Rose Bowl, Sophia Gardens and Old Trafford last week. It is the first time since 1997 that England have led the Aussies 3-0 in a one-day series and wins at The Brit Oval today and at Lord's on Saturday would seal a 5-0 whitewash.

Such a margin of victory would fortify England as they plan the retention of the Ashes in Australia this winter, yet it would carry far greater significance for their World Cup chances. The tournament takes place in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh next spring and England are suddenly serious contenders.

Since their 6-1 hammering by Australia in last autumn's NatWest Series, England's 50-over cricket has brimmed with confidence. It must be said they are playing a weakened Australian team, who are suffering from the absence of key bowlers and the loss of form of some of their best batsmen, but England's ruthlessness in this series would have tested many stronger teams.

At the top of the order, Craig Kieswetter has had a quiet series but his classy hitting remains crucial. Think back to the gruesome days of the 2007 World Cup, with Ian Bell and Michael Vaughan leaving deliveries outside the off-stump during the first 10 overs.

The presence of Kieswetter and Eoin Morgan -- possibly the most exciting limited-overs player in cricket -- alleviates the strain on Kevin Pietersen. With those three able to play the big shots, Paul Collingwood and captain Andrew Strauss can bat in a more low-key fashion.

Strauss's position as leader was questioned at the beginning of this series after England won the World Twenty20 without him in the spring. …

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