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Page last updated at 21:53 GMT, Thursday, 17 March 2011

Agnew at the World Cup

England captain Andrew Strauss

Strauss praises England bowlers

Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent, Chennai

It is pretty exhilarating watching England play at the moment, if somewhat unpredictable. They keep pulling these results out of the fire when it matters.

It is, of course, their fault that they had to produce a victory in their final group match, having lost games against Ireland and Bangladesh that they should have won.

Several times in this tournament they have found themselves in crunch games, particularly in the field, and have had to produce a winning performance from somewhere.

And they have once again.

Against South Africa and now against the West Indies, they have been involved in games in which they looked, for all the world, like they should have lost.

Yet they are digging these wins out and finding enough character to carry them through.

These results do not really give us any indication as to what England's standard of cricket is, but to a large extent it does not matter anymore.

They can go to their holding camp in Delhi on Friday, sit there and basically draw a line under everything that has happened.

The team can talk about the three games they potentially have to come and know they are close to something very special.

I think they will get through to the quarter-finals because one of the other results [in the matches between Bangladesh and South Africa or India and the West Indies] will probably go England's way.

England spinner Graeme Swann

Swann thought England's World Cup was over

The fact that they have not performed to their best at the moment does not really matter.

Their inconsistency is frustrating and makes it impossible to predict how much further they will go in the Cricket World Cup, but Andrew Strauss and his team-mates can take a deep breath and just start again.

There have been one or two fractious moments in the campaign and it had been claimed that the team would not have minded defeat and a trip home on Thursday, but that is simply not true.

The dressing room erupted in delight with that run-out. England want to keep going, they want to win.

They know they have this lifeline and they can do something really special.

At the moment, they are winning without big performances.

Strauss and Trott are playing pretty well, but they have not got too many match-winners, with Kevin Pietersen out injured and James Anderson out of form.

The seam bowlers do their bit and toil away, but Chris Tremlett did not impress against the West Indies.

If you look at the England squad as a whole, you wonder who are the players who will produce a performance that will lift the side against the big teams like Australia and Sri Lanka. That will be an issue.

But they have won matches that they looked destined to lose and that, in some ways, is a very healthy place to be.

If you can do that, and know that you can do it, that is very important for a team's confidence.

Join Jonathan Agnew and Geoffrey Boycott for the TMS podcast

Jonathan Agnew was talking to BBC Sport's Mike Henson.

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see also
Strauss proud of England spirit
17 Mar 11 |  England
England win keeps Cup hopes alive
17 Mar 11 |  England
Bangladesh rally to shock England
11 Mar 11 |  England
England stun S Africa in thriller
06 Mar 11 |  England
Brilliant Ireland shock England
02 Mar 11 |  Cricket
England & India in thrilling tie
27 Feb 11 |  England
Ragged England sneak past Dutch
22 Feb 11 |  England
Cricket World Cup 2011
09 Mar 11 |  Cricket

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