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Page last updated at 15:42 GMT, Saturday, 19 March 2011

Cricket World Cup: Andy Flower upbeat on England

Andy Flower
Flower has no preference for the quarter-final venue

England coach Andy Flower has backed his team to flourish in the World Cup's knockout stage after their quarter-final berth was sealed on Saturday.

Despite an inconsistent group campaign, which featured losses to Ireland and Bangladesh, South Africa's win over the latter team secured England's passage.

And Flower confidently stated: "This side perform well under pressure.

"Each game now will be a pressure situation and I trust our guys to handle themselves very well."

Flower continued: "There's no more pressured situation than an Ashes series and you know how we performed during that [England beat Australia 3-1 this winter].

"And the last world tournament that we played in we won - the Twenty20 World Cup in the West Indies 18 months ago."

England's erratic performances on the sub-continent, however, have suggested on occasion that the steely resolve which helped achieve those feats is on the wane.

After an edgy six-wicket opening victory over minnows the Netherlands, England fought back to earn a seemingly unlikely tie with India before then slumping to a dramatic defeat to Ireland.

Their rollercoaster tournament continued when they produced an astonishing comeback to beat South Africa only for a subsequent loss to Bangladesh leaving Flower's side needing to beat the West Indies to keep their quarter-final hopes alive.

Flower's injury-depleted side obliged with a tense 18-run triumph but they then had to wait for Saturday's good news - a 206-run win for South Africa - to be certain of their progress.

"There is a sense of relief because with only seven points in the bag we had to rely on other results going our way," Flower admitted.

The former Zimbabwe international, though, was not in the mood to dwell on his side's hiccups, preferring to reflect on a "mission accomplished".

"Against some of the supposed smaller nations we didn't perform as well as we should have," reflected Flower.

"It's been an exciting ride so far - we've been inconsistent, we haven't dominated but we've qualified which was our initial goal and now we look forward to the quarter-final."

England's opponents have yet to be finalised, with the result of the India-West Indies match on Sunday affecting where Flower's side finish in the group and thus who they will face next week.

Should India win England will finish third where they could also find themselves if the hosts suffer a particularly emphatic defeat as the teams would be on the same points but the tourists would have a superior run rate.

Assuming there is a positive result between Australia and Pakistan, Sri Lanka will be second in their group and will be England's next opponents in Colombo next Saturday.

However, if West Indies secure a narrow win, England would be fourth and they will face either Australia or Pakistan on Friday.

"I don't have a preference," insisted Flower. "Whichever venue or whichever opposition we come up against I'm very excited about the game."

Flower hinted that the uncapped Jade Dernbach, who was called up from the England Lions squad to replace hamstring injury victim Ajmal Shahzad, could well play a role in England's attack in that encounter.

"He'll meet us on Monday evening, whichever venue we fly into," Flower said of the Surrey pace bowler, who was the Lions leading wicket-taker in their current tour of the West Indies.

"He's got a bowling variety that we think might work out here in the sub-continent.

"He's got a little more pace than a couple of options that we've seen, good slower ball and we think that he might be an attacking bowler that could be useful out here."

Meanwhile, Flower said James Anderson, who was rested for the win over the Windies, could return for the quarter-final despite his miserable form in the competition.

"He's got niggly little problems - one in his elbow and one in his bowling shoulder," Flower revealed of the misfiring strike bowler, who has managed only four wickets during the tournament.

"He's had a very hard winter, playing all five Tests in the Ashes series plus he's been involved in the Australian one-day series, plus this World Cup.

"And certainly it's a very clear lesson that we have to manage and rotate our fast bowling resources through these very heavy schedules, and do it better than we have this winter.

"He is a little weary from his exertions, like any fast bowler would be, but if we need to call upon him for this quarter-final he'll be fine."

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see also
SA victory puts England through
19 Mar 11 |  Cricket
England call up bowler Dernbach
18 Mar 11 |  England
Shahzad to miss rest of World Cup
17 Mar 11 |  England
England win keeps Cup hopes alive
17 Mar 11 |  England
Strauss proud of England spirit
17 Mar 11 |  England

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