Strauss not too fond of drama
Is there an end to this England drama? Struggle against one Associate nation, defeat to another, tied game with India, tight wins over South Africa and West Indies and of course, defeat at the hands of Bangladesh. Amidst all that, there have been injuries aplenty, a player withdrawal and the team's best batsman coming in. This is England's 2011 World Cup campaign in a nutshell.
Curiously, England and Sri Lanka met in an anti-climatic quarterfinal in Faisalabad in 1996. But given the stakes, the possibility of this being Murali's last game and England's erratic tendencies, only broken dish antennas (Sanath Jayasuriya's massive six off Richard Illingworth landed on one) and rain (it was very cloudy last evening) can be expected to add more spice to this encounter.
Though Andrew Strauss is not a man for such histrionics, the England skipper will be taking the positive as the morsel from the last month.
“We weren't expecting to create high drama. We were expecting to play good cricket and qualify for the quarterfinals. I think it's been great that our games have been close, for the spectators. Not been too great for us,” said Strauss yesterday at the R Premadasa Stadium.
“We would have wanted to win easier than we have done but we take a lot of confidence from beating the major sides. We tied with India and beat South Africa and West Indies. That holds us in good stead for this game,” he said, adding that there is still more 'drama' left in his side's knockout game against Sri Lanka.
“We don't know what drama is about to unfold but the likelihood is, as we saw in the India-Australia game, it is going to be a tough game. It can fluctuate on a couple of key performances. So we have to make sure we're the guys that put up those performances,” he explained.
He was also not too keen on calling themselves contenders for the trophy, England's roller-coaster ride certainly giving him enough reason to be cautious.
“Whenever we've looked too far in the future, we've come crashing down in a huge heap. All we can do is try our best to win the game.
I know the guys are immensely excited, we had a long time leading up to this time with little else to do other than imagining how we are going to win this one,” he said.
“We've shown that we can stick together in great encounters, but you never know what this game is going to throw at you so you have to adapt to whatever comes your way,” he added.
What these close matches have brought out for England have been new match-winners like Strauss himself, Jonathan Trott, Luke Wright and even James Tredwell. Strauss believed that the rise in the number of match-winners is a good sign.
“We haven't really been relying on Plan A. We have to chop and change, Ravi bowled quite a few overs in the last game when he hadn't really bowled much.
“It gives me a lot of belief that you don't have to look at the same 2-3 players to deliver for you. I think we all know that to win the World Cup, you need performances from all eleven over the course of the tournament.
“At this stage, there is nothing to lose. You've got to go out there and win a game. That sort of mindset certainly helps. I'm very confident we'll be able to replicate that tomorrow,” said Strauss
The last time these two sides met in a World Cup game, it was another classic with the Lankans coming out on top by two runs. But overall, it has been England who have a 6-2 advantage over Sri Lanka.
It is silly to think that England would give a hoot to form or history in their bid to play in the semifinals for the first time since 1992.