Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

England Need to Find Their True Spirit

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

England Need to Find Their True Spirit

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID LLOYD

NASSER HUSSAIN will learn over the next few days whether his bruised and battered squad have enough strong characters to at least compete in next year's World Cup.

After an eight-wicket hammering here by India, they can shrug their shoulders and wish themselves better luck once the tour moves on to New Zealand.

But if that is the case, then Hussain and coach Duncan Fletcher may as well rip up this script and start again at the first page. Beating India even once more in the two remaining matches - the next is on Thursday in Delhi - will take some doing now the home side are 3-1 ahead and firmly in the ascendancy, psychologically as well as numerically.

But what England's bosses need to see is the same fighting spirit so evident during that pre-Christmas Test series which started with a hammering and ended in two honourable draws.

Hussain has said all along that this squad, with its high percentage of international rookies, can learn as much, and maybe even more, from losing games.

Well now is their chance to not only take heed of yesterday's harsh lesson but also to reveal some real determination.

There are several players who could be here but were left behind for various reasons older, considerably more experienced campaigners like Alec Stewart, Graeme Hick, Mark Ramprakash, Robert Croft, Mark Ealham and Alan Mullally.

It is not too late for at least some of them to return to the fold next summer and remake their bids for inclusion in the 2003 World Cup party. For the moment, though, Hussain's class of 2002 are in pole position and one, two or even three thumpings by an Indian side capable of humbling any opposition on home soil will not change that.

Provided, of course, they show the right spirit in Delhi and Bombay later this week and then make decent strides in New Zealand.

"This defeat just reminds us of what everyone was writing and saying a few months ago," said Hussain after England's ultimately disappointing total of 218 for seven in Kanpur had been wiped out by Sachin Tendulkar and his clone, Virender Sehwag, with more than nine overs to spare. …

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