England ready to spring a World Cup retaliation

Jonathan TROTT is warning of a World Cup backlash after England’s humiliating defeat to minnows Ireland.

Trott has labelled England’s last three group games as “very winnable” – starting with tomorrow’s crunch match against South Africa in Chennai as Andrew Strauss’s side attempt to restore shattered pride.

England’s one-day cricket is once more a laughing stock following the miserable three-wicket defeat to Ireland, which is not even a Test-playing nation.

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But Trott insists that loss will serve as “a good wake-up call” which can inspire England to reach the knockout stages of a tournament they have never won.

“We have three very winnable games ahead of us and a huge chance to qualify for the quarters,” claimed Trott, who top-scored with 92 in the Ireland debacle.

“You have to realise we are in a World Cup; there are three group games to go and it is not all doom and gloom.

“Obviously we would like to have won the game (against Ireland) and we were very disappointed.

“But we know what lies ahead of us and the job in hand and what we have to do to be able to progress.”

England probably need to win two of their remaining group matches to reach the quarter-finals.

They will be encouraged by the fact they have beaten South Africa in seven of their last eight completed one-day games, although Graeme Smith’s men have won their opening two World Cup fixtures to top Group B.

England’s final group opponents are Bangladesh in Chittagong on Friday and the West Indies in Chennai on Thursday week.

Although Trott is correct to contend that all three fixtures can be won, such talk is meaningless unless England improve ten-fold on their performance against Ireland.

In the first instance, England fell short of par with the bat in that match, posting only 327-8 from their 50 overs after Trott and Ian Bell gave them the platform for a much bigger score.

England then let their opponents wriggle free after reducing them to 111-5 in pursuit of a record run-chase.

Kevin O’Brien deserved enormous credit for smashing 113 from 63 balls, but he was assisted by an England bowling and fielding display that brought a whole new meaning to the term “rabbits in headlights”.

“Obviously, you are expected to have good battles against the Test-playing nations and win all the other games,” conceded Trott.

“So, to lose against a team like Ireland, who played really well towards the end of their batting innings, was very unexpected but a good wake-up call for the team.

“We’ve had a chat about things – guys have had a think about their own performances and their own roles in the team, and a think about what they need to do to be able to contribute to the team being successful and to being successful themselves.

“It’s about making sure you know your role when it comes down to performing, and guys standing up when they need to be counted.

“But I don’t think we can look too much at the game we have just lost.

“I think it would be foolish if we looked backwards. We want to go forwards in this competition, starting on Sunday with South Africa. That has to be our focus.”

England returned to training yesterday, extending the practice session to two hours instead of the one hour originally planned.

Trott believes that was a sensible move. “We had a good blow-out and put to rest our disappointment with the way we fielded against Ireland,” he added. “Now we are looking forward to the South African game.

“They are obviously a well-drilled side and, with (leg-spinner) Imran Tahir now in the team, they have a few more options in the spin department, as well as a few powerful batters.They are a good all-round side but, if we hit our straps, they are very beatable.”

England are crossing their fingers that Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood and Graeme Swann will be fit to play.

Pietersen’s sore calf has caused most cause for concern; he sat out fielding practice yesterday.

But England’s makeshift opener is expected to be fit to take on his home country, while Swann and Collingwood (knee) are also on the mend.

Trott believes the key to England’s hopes of progression lies in the ability to sustain good form throughout a match.

Lapses of concentration were in glaring evidence against Ireland – as they were to a lesser extent in the victory over Holland and the tie against India.

Dropped chances helped keep Ireland in the game, with Swann (3-47) the only bowler who emerged with credit.

It remains to be seen whether England will look to recall Yorkshire’s Ajmal Shahzad, whose case for inclusion will hardly have been harmed by the Ireland result.

“We have got to play 100 overs of good cricket – especially in today’s climate when you consider how quickly games can change and how quickly people can take games away from you on flat wickets,“ added Trott. “We have got to be on the ball at all times.”