Darren Gough – Victory vital for England or we’ll be looking down a barrel

I KNOW some people have questioned the long format of this Cricket World Cup, but I do really like the fact that all the teams play each other.

England's Joe Root: Hit top form despite defeat.

Originally, I wanted the likes of Scotland, Ireland and the UAE in the competition as it is a world game now. But now the World Cup is here, I look at all the sides and there is no easy game.

Even though they have not played that well so far, Afghanistan are strong and can squeeze you in the middle overs and have dangerous players. If the pitch suits them, they can upset someone and I am sure they will do.

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It is the same with Bangladesh. Steve Rhodes has got them playing some good cricket.

Anyone can beat anyone and that is what a World Cup should be about with the 10 strongest sides all playing each other.

So I do like this format rather than the split-groups. That can be pot luck and having to play each other is a good way of doing it for me.

Today is a massive game for England against Bangladesh as we have not been at our best yet and we need points.

That said, you do not really want to peak too early as it is a long tournament. Over six-and-a-half weeks teams will tire and I think spin will come more and more into it.

Moeen Ali has done all right so far, but Adil Rashid has not really got started yet. But if he gets on a roll and England keep picking up wins and don’t get on a bad run, Rashid will become more effective as the tournament goes on.

The Aussies have got Adam Zampa and Glenn Maxwell in their spin department and West Indies have got Ashley Nurse.

We have two good spinners and a third one in Liam Dawson, who sits on the bench at the minute.

For me, we are covered in all departments but we need to beat Bangladesh. Lose that and we are looking down the barrel a bit with Australia, West Indies, New Zealand and India still to play.

The team who we have beaten in South Africa have been embarrassing so far. Obviously, the stories have also broken about AB de Villiers asking to come back and the management not wanting him in as he would upset the side.

That is absolutely ridiculous when you think about it. He is probably the best player in the world and their batting line-up is average without him and it has cost them along with Dale Steyn and Lungi Ngidi being out.

For me, South Africa – with their shortage of bowling – are basically out. I cannot see them recovering unless they go on a miracle run.

I think you can afford to lose four and maybe sneak in, but they have lost three games already and have some big nations to play.

We lost to Pakistan on Monday, but there were positives with Joe Root playing really well. It is rare that you see a situation where you get two players on one side getting hundreds and you still lose the game. That was strange.

Maybe Jofra Archer also had a bit of a wake-up call in terms of how hard international cricket sometimes is. He bowled beautifully in the first game and then got smashed to all parts.

It is not easy and there are some very talented players around the world in all teams. One or two individuals can win a game for you.

Mohammad Hafeez played brilliantly against England and Sarfaraz Ahmed and Babar Azam were also excellent. To be fair, their top five played beautifully.

For me, when England are strong, we get off to a flyer and so far we have not had it and either Jason Roy or Jonny Bairstow have gone early.

When those two get going, that is where we become strong. Ideally, we don’t want Root coming in too early. You look at him and Eoin Morgan on Monday and they faced a lot of balls and they had to as we had to recover.

As for who will win it, it is a hard one to call at the minute.

The West Indies lost to Australia, but impressed. It was a rarity that a No 9 in Nathan Coulter-Nile smashed 92 and took the game away from them.

Australia are a very dangerous team and I have said that from day one. They have an unbelievable fast bowling attack and their batting can deliver, but Zampa has been disappointing so far.

Pakistan are a different team when Shadab Khan is back in. The attack of Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz and Hasan Ali is as good as it gets. They just need the top order to deliver consistently.

India were impressive and New Zealand have gone under the radar and played good cricket. I like Matt Henry who has played in England and knows the conditions and can bowl really well at the death.