Moxon: England will need to fire on all fronts

MARTYN MOXON believes England need at least eight or nine players at the top of their game to stand a realistic chance of winning the World Cup.

Yorkshire's director of professional cricket said a collective team effort was essential if they are to land the 50-over competition starting next month.

Moxon also backed pace bowlers Tim Bresnan and Ajmal Shahzad to shine after the Yorkshire duo were yesterday named in England's 15-man squad.

The only surprise selection was that of Matt Prior, who got the nod as wicketkeeper over Steve Davies.

"England have got a chance of winning but they need everyone to hit form," said Moxon, who played eight one-day internationals between 1985-88.

"That's what happened in the Ashes just gone, with everyone playing their part to some extent.

"You've got to peak at the right time to win a tournament like the World Cup, which means at least eight or nine players have got to produce the goods.

"In the Ashes, just about everyone hit their straps, which was pretty much why England prevailed."

Moxon believes a clearer indication of England's credentials will emerge during the current one-day series in Australia.

Andrew Strauss's men tomorrow play the second of seven ODIs in Hobart after losing the opening match in Melbourne on Sunday.

"It's difficult to say exactly how England will fare in the World Cup until we've seen the current series pan out," stressed Moxon.

"Australia are still the world's

No 1-ranked one-day team, so they're going to provide the ideal benchmark.

"If we end up losing the series 5-2, or whatever, there's obviously work to do.

"But I actually think we're better than that, so we might end up beating Australia."

The World Cup starts on February 19 and is being held in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

With the pitches expected to be slow and low, Moxon believes they could favour Bresnan and Shahzad.

"I think both our lads can have a significant impact on the sub-continent," he added.

"Bresnan showed good skills in not entirely dissimilar conditions during the Twenty20 World Cup last year, while Shahzad could be a handful with his ability to reverse-swing and bowl a good slower ball.

"Both of them are maturing fast and have got time on their side.

"If given a chance, they certainly won't be fazed."

Although Bresnan and Shahzad will hope for a place in England's opening World Cup game against Netherlands in Nagpur on February 22, they face stiff competition from returning first-choice players James Anderson and Stuart Broad.

Anderson is being rested for the first three ODIs in Australia, while Broad is recovering from an

abdominal injury.

First-choice spinner Graeme Swann remains sidelined for up to a fortnight with a badly bruised knee, but is expected to be fit for the World Cup.

James Tredwell was named as third spinner, with Chris Tremlett the only other member of the current squad to miss out.

England team director Andy Flower admitted it was a close call between Prior and Davies for the wicketkeeper's role.

Prior's last ODI was against Bangladesh in Chittagong last March, but Davies has failed to pull up trees.

"It was a tough decision," admitted Flower. "Steve Davies was picked in our last one-day series and he did okay against Pakistan.

"We picked him for this series in Australia because of the conditions out here, but as we get closer to the World Cup we've made that adjustment and we want Prior to get a few games under his belt before we get out there."

National selector Geoff Miler commented: "Given his (Prior's) recent form and his batting style, which is very well suited to the subcontinent conditions, we believe his inclusion is warranted.

"Despite some strong performances both with the bat and behind the stumps by Steven Davies, we feel that Matt's game will be better suited to the conditions in Bangladesh and India, the venues staging England's group matches.

"With spin bowlers set to play a prominent role in this World Cup, we feel we have quality and depth in Graeme Swann, Michael Yardy and James Tredwell, who have all shown their capabilities at international level."

Miller believes England have a decent chance of winning the competition.

"We have several batsmen and pace bowlers that have been successful on the ODI stage while offering an encouraging blend of conventional and innovative approaches," he added.

"Paul Collingwood may not have scored as many runs as he would have liked so far on the tour of Australia, but he has been a consistently strong performer for England in limited-overs cricket for a long period of time.

"His experience, ODI knowledge and skills across all three facets of the game make him a valuable member of the squad and he'll be looking to make a big impact at another global event.

"Stuart Broad continues to make strong progress in his rehabilitation from an abdominal injury and we expect him to make a full recovery by the time the squad departs for the subcontinent, which is a major boost given his quality with both ball and bat."

If England perform to their capabilities, Moxon believes they can at least reach the semi-finals.

But whether this England team have the talent to go all the way is debatable.

England are not fifth in the International Cricket Council ODI rankings for nothing, with doubts persisting over their ability in the 50-overs format.

However, they won the Twenty20 World Cup last year, which can only give them confidence; ditto their performances in the Ashes.

Although it is right to say a strong team effort will be required, England will be particularly reliant on star names such as Kevin

Pietersen.

If the likes of Pietersen fire, England have a chance.

If not, they will struggle to find the X-factor required to win a major tournament – no matter how impressive the team collective.