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Jonathan Agnew column

Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent

England bowler Tim Bresnan
Tim Bresnan is fitter than he was and has a very repeatable action which helps him to bowl well under pressure

It is hard to overestimate how skilfully England adapted to make the best of a completely different surface against New Zealand.

In Barbados for their previous Super Eights games against Pakistan and South Africa they have played on a fast, bouncy pitch which suited the way they want to play the game.

But in St Lucia they were faced with a slower track that required a different approach to suit the conditions and they very easily managed to achieve that. They bowled with a lot of variation and took the pace off the ball.

Tim Bresnan was once again impressive and he is certainly a player who has come on leaps and bounds in the last few months.

Playing on the slower types of wicket in Bangladesh helped him to develop as a bowler and it's quite clear how hard he has worked on his game.

He's fitter and stronger than he was and has a very repeatable action which helps him to bowl well under pressure. There's little doubt his confidence is growing and it's a bonus for England that he gives the ball a biff down the order too.

That kind of batting comes from being confident in the first place though.

Stuart Broad was solid with the ball but his catch to dismiss Aaron Redmond was outstanding in the way he kept his legs away from the boundary rope.

606: DEBATE

That was a direct result of specific training and fielding drills that England have been doing in the Caribbean. All the players line up on the boundary and work hard on exactly that discipline - keeping within the ropes.

Broad had that catch under control and was not worried under pressure. The fact that he held the ball and kept cool in those circumstances is down to what the England coaching staff have been doing and for that they deserve enormous credit.

We must also recognise that here was an England team winning without Kevin Pietersen, who has been terrific so far in this tournament. Ravi Bopara failed to take his chance but the fact that England closed out victory having been on the rack at one point is great to see, and in Eoin Morgan they have uncovered a real gem.

His batting has been truly inspirational. He hits boundaries, he moves the ball around and runs like the clappers.

Importantly too he has the ability to pull off shots the bowler cannot anticipate and can adapt his game to the match situation. That seems to be the ethos of the whole team at the moment.

England batsman Eoin Morgan
Morgan has made a real impression since winning his place in the side

Test cricket is undoubtedly a possibility for him down the line if he continues in this vein of form. The England selectors will look at the character of the man and see the way he copes under pressure. In my mind there is no question that he would be able to cope with the rigours of Test cricket, but that might still be some way off.

In terms of what happens now, well, England simply have to take whoever is thrown at them.

The Aussies have been going like a train in this competition - bullying, ruthless, the kind of style we have become accustomed to seeing.

They've used their pace bowlers to great effect so far. But Dirk Nannes, Shaun Tait and the others will have to show they are capable of adapting to the pitch in St Lucia, just like the England bowlers have done.

The Australian quicks may have the firepower but they are not as canny as England's pace attack and will need to show guile to take the pace off the ball on a slower deck.

Pakistan have not looked like a team so far but once again they have squeaked through the back door and into the semi-finals - just like they did last year when they won the tournament at Lord's.

I certainly would not rule out them surprising everyone and doing that again.

Jonathan Agnew was talking to BBC Sport's Harry Reekie.



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see also
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Father-to-be Pietersen flies home
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Jonathan Agnew column
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ICC World Twenty20 teams guide
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ICC World Twenty20 2010
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Live cricket on the BBC
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