Fading Motivation

With time fading for England in the World Cup in a familiar manner, it's impossible to be certain about what's behind their rank inconsistency. However, as it can't be attributed to lack of technical ability, or, these days, to one-day international inexperience, I fall firmly within the camp which - as Simon Hughes exemplified in the Telegraph last week - puts the variable nature of their form down to the brutal and unforgiving nature of their recent itinerary.

You will never get any of them to admit it in public, but, for those players involved, the summit of their winter's achievements - in some cases of their entire careers - came in Sydney on 7th January. Perhaps uniquely now, Test cricket, especially against Australia, means more to the average English player (and follower), than a one-day international competition ever will, even if it's the World Cup. And if you've only spent a handful of days at home since the autumn, the type of iron motivation you need when the likes of Ireland and Bangladesh come gunning for you is going to be even harder to summon.

However, as both the Indian and South African games showed, even a weary and reduced team can produce the goods when it's really threatened, so, with one qualifying game to go, salvation and a passage to the quarters is well within their grasp.

Unlike Ireland, though, they might want to think about how they bowl to Kieron Pollard...

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