Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Nasser Needs to Be Bowled Over

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Nasser Needs to Be Bowled Over

Article excerpt


IAN BLACKWELL is the latest batsman to join a now encouragingly long line of potential match-winners available to England's World Cup planners.

But the embarrassing ease with which Blackwell's innings of 82 here was rendered inconsequential by two Indian openers during an ultimately one-sided Champions Trophy clash must have created an even bigger impression on England's selectors.

Captain Nasser Hussain, coach Duncan Fletcher and fellow selectors David Graveney and Geoff Miller will decide later this week whether powerful Somerset lefthander Blackwell can be accommodated in their last one-day squad before World Cup choices become hard and fast.

But they should be able to find room for the 24-year-old in a party of 15 to tackle Australia and Sri Lanka in a triangular tournament Down Under during December and January.

But while Blackwell could be a batting force in Australia, and again throughout the World Cup campaign in southern Africa come February and March, England will make no significant progress in either event unless their bowlers learn how to contain the likes of Virender Sehwag and Sourav Ganguly.

It is a lot easier said than done, of course.

But England must find a few answers or else more defeats along the lines of yesterday's eight-wicket hammering - sealed with a whopping 10 and a half overs to spare - will surely follow.

A Blackwell-inspired total of 269 for seven appeared defendable under floodlights. Instead of struggling against the swing, though, India soared towards a semi-final meeting with South Africa as Sehwag and Ganguly put together a stand of 192, at better than a run a ball before being parted.

Sehwag's 126 was a ferocious destruction of the opposition. If anything, though, captain Ganguly took even greater delight in savaging England and he was there at the end, unbeaten on 117, as India confirmed their superiority on neutral territory after umpteen meetings throughout the past 11 months.

Hussain's injury-hit squad came to Sri Lanka as second favourites to progress from group B and they will head home tomorrow having lived up to that modest billing. Zimbabwe were well beaten but India proved far too good. …

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