England qualify for World Cup quarter-finals

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England have qualified for the World Cup quarter-finals after seeing Bangladesh thrashed by South Africa.

There was an inappropriately quick confirmation this morning that they will be in the last eight after all, at odds with the tortuous and stuttering progress they have made over the past three weeks in their Group B campaign.

Bangladesh generously did not keep England waiting long, bowled out for a hapless 78 on the way to a tournament-ending 206-run defeat by South Africa in Dhaka.

England will still not know for sure until tomorrow evening whom they will be playing and where.

But those details were not about to keep coach Andy Flower awake tonight - because he is confident his team will be ready for their next assignment when the time comes, either in Dhaka or Colombo..

The likelihood is that England will be up against 2007 finalists Sri Lanka on their home patch at the Premadasa Stadium.

But Flower said: “We don’t have a preference.

“Whatever conditions are thrown our way, whichever opposition, we’ll deal with it.

“As soon as we know where we’re going and who we’re playing, we’ll focus our preparation on beating them.”

His words came with a confident tone that would surely have been more resonant had England managed to convince throughout their six qualifying fixtures.

Instead, they lurched to extremes in a thrilling sequence of matches almost unfailingly decided by the narrowest of margins - and the coach echoed the thoughts already expressed by captain Andrew Strauss as he acknowledged the need for much more consistency.

“It would have been great to have been more dominant.

“But I’m not looking backwards now; we’re looking forwards to the quarter-final.

“We haven’t been consistent - there’s no getting away from that. We’d love more consistent and dominant performances.”

The fine-tuning to underpin that necessary improvement will begin once England fly south on Monday from a weekend holding camp in Delhi to their knockout destination.

In the meantime, downtime is being punctuated by a watching brief of events elsewhere on television.

The players stayed in their rooms to keep their eyes on Bangladesh-South Africa, and will doubtless do likewise when West Indies and India’s last group match in Chennai tomorrow determines England’s quarter-final venue and opponents.

That must all wait, though - and today at least, the inevitable and overriding feeling was relief that their own last-ditch win over the Windies two days ago has proved enough. “It’s great to be through,” said Flower.

“There’s been a number of ups and downs, and it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster ride so far.

“It’s been tense and exciting.

“There are certainly all sorts of emotions that have been running through the dressing room.

“But the players have done really well to hold themselves in pressure situations, none more so than the last game - when they scrapped and they fought and did everything they could to win.”

James Anderson was rested for that must-win match, having run out of steam after his exertions in an exhausting Ashes and World Cup winter.

Flower hinted that uncapped Jade Dernbach, the surprise choice to replace the injured Ajmal Shahzad who will meet up with his new team-mates at their next port of call, may turn out to be more than mere cover for the rest of the tournament.

As for Anderson, the coach insists he could still be involved again - but made it clear England have realised, presumably in view of Shahzad and Stuart Broad’s injuries too, they must scheme in more rest for their pace attack. “He’s had a strenuous winter,” Flower said of Anderson.

“He played in every Test match in Australia and also a couple of the first-class games leading up to that series; then he took part in the one-day series in Australia and has played a number of games in this World Cup.

“He has a couple of little niggles, but we could certainly play him in the next match.

“It’s certainly brought home the lesson that we have to manage and look after our fast bowlers well.

“I think with the schedule and the workload on our fast-bowling resources, we will have to bring in a clearer rotation policy.”

South Africa-born Surrey seamer Dernbach will tomorrow set off on an airborne odyssey from England Lions duty in the Caribbean, having been preferred to a clutch of other contenders - including Chris Woakes, who made his ODI debut in Australia.

Asked about England’s latest recruit, Flower said: “The reports coming back from the Lions management and coaches are all glowing.

“He has a variety to his bowling that we think might be useful out here.

“He’s got a little more pace than one or two others, a good slower ball - and we think he might be an attacking option out here.”