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Cricket World Cup: Jonathan Agnew column

Graeme Swann
Swann's dropped catch encapsulated a wretched England fielding performance

Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent, Dhaka

I will be surprised if England play as poorly as they did in their six-wicket win over the Netherlands again.

I do not think it is possible for them to field as badly as that for two matches in succession.

Captain Andrew Strauss and his men know where they went wrong, they were off the boil to a worrying extent with basic errors such as two fielders leaving a catch to fall to the ground - and then only having three men inside the circle, why on earth no one picked up on that I have no idea.

The argument about scheduling is irrelevant because they are here now and there will never be another year with an Ashes series followed by a World Cup. But they flew all the way out to Bangladesh, which was a 12-hour journey, and are now off again to Bangalore, which may not seem far but requires two flights - it is relentless.

The question is do they have the character to lift themselves?

Everyone knew the Netherlands can play and have one or two players who can compete at the highest level but people were not expecting England to be so poor.

It will be interesting to see whether Strauss's side can pick themselves up, whether this is a team that is simply exhausted or whether they can make one last big effort. The skipper does not seem like a beaten man, I spoke to him before the match and he talked very positively.

Jonathan Trott is stumped
Trott made 62 but was stumped off a wide down the leg side

I would like to see Michael Yardy in the team, he and Graeme Swann bowled very well in tandem when England won the 2010 World Twenty20 in the Caribbean, when they looked like a very good one-day unit.

Paul Collingwood does a decent job as a sixth bowler but for him to be one of the main five, it leaves nowhere to go and it only takes one of them to have a bad day as James Anderson did here and you have major problems.

I do not think Collingwood will be dropped so that would mean leaving out Ravi Bopara, which is harsh because he actually played very nicely in this match and that six when he took on long-off was of the highest order, but five main bowlers are needed.

One thing I do not think we will see is tinkering to suit the opposition, they will want to get a settled team and get some momentum going.

Strauss was as culpable as anyone when he looped a catch straight to the fielder when the job was nowhere near completed. Jonathan Trott, who was stumped off a wide down the leg side, and Kevin Pietersen, who got himself in and got out, were both sloppy.

Ian Bell
Ian Bell was one of several to get out when the match was still in the balance

England now face the toughest of challenges on Sunday against India, who are rightly one of the favourites to win the tournament, and I hope we see more energy.

It is going to be very hostile, very intimidating. There will be a handful of Brits supporting them in Bangalore but England are going to have Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and a very good India team coming hard at them in front of very noisy supporters.

If Strauss and his men put in another performance in the field as they did here they are going to be ridiculed. It will be a huge test of character.

England are going to need a much more disciplined and focused performance if they are going to beat India in such formidable conditions.

A lot of the players will have very recent memories of being roasted by the Indians, they were absolutely destroyed 5-0 on the last tour and would have lost the series 7-0 had it not been for the Mumbai attacks in late 2008.

The way the tournament is structured it is not the end of the world if they lose to India, but what they have got to do is ensure they don't lose to teams like Ireland.

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see also
Ragged England sneak past Dutch
22 Feb 11 |  England
Strauss demands England reaction
22 Feb 11 |  England
England v Netherlands photos
22 Feb 11 |  Cricket
Cricket World Cup 2011 squads
19 Jan 11 |  Cricket
Cricket World Cup warm-up matches
16 Feb 11 |  Cricket
Cricket World Cup 2011
09 Mar 11 |  Cricket

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