Graham Thorpe

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Tall order for England in South Africa

England start their ICC Champions Trophy campaign against Sri Lanka in Johannesburg on Friday - and it will be a tricky opener.

 

Sri Lanka lost to India in the final of the Triangular Series recently and they'll be looking to come back hard in this tournament.

 

In the opening match Sri Lanka looked sharp as they won by 55 runs via Duckworth/Lewis.

 

On paper they are a dangerous side: England will look for short balls, hoping the Wanderers track will have a bit of bounce in it and some swing. The surface in the opening game in Centurion died a little bit.

 

Sri Lanka dominated South Africa's bowlers; they were well on top before the rains hit.

 

New Zealand are the other team in the group and it's not going to be an easy one for England to get out of.

 

They haven't played well against Australia and they lacked a gameplan in that series.

 

Combine those things together and England are a long-shot for this tournament, whatever they say. As an individual as part of that team you're not going to talk yourself down, you've got to talk yourself up.

 

For England, going in as the underdogs will probably suit them. If you analyse how they've been in one-day cricket though it's hard to see them getting out of this group.

 

They've got to beat New Zealand and they've got to beat one of Sri Lanka or South Africa. Basically they've got to win two out of the three games.

 

It's hard to see that, but not impossible; you need a couple of fantastic performances out of some of the players. They're not strong enough together, collectively, to show us at the moment that they will progress out of this group and reach the semi-finals.

 

Preparations have been compromised for England and Australia, but at least they've been playing cricket. Coming out of the Ashes England made mistakes all the way through the one-day series.

 

If they've sat down and talked hard about what happened they can hopefully iron out those problems. They probably won't put winning the trophy as number one on the priority list but want to see a little bit of improvement before the next ICC World Cup.

 

The priority will be to gel together as a team - which is still very young - get them playing good cricket and pick up a win along the way.

 

Courtesy: http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com

 

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