Actually, we’ve been there before. Against all expectations, England had won its first two matches of last year’s Champions Trophy in South Africa against Sri Lanka and the hosts, and had already qualified for the semi-finals before they faced New Zealand in their final group match.
In that match, New Zealand won a good toss at an overcast Wanderers and promptly blasted England out for only 146, before knocking off the runs with more than 22 overs to spare. England had relaxed too much safe in the knowledge they were already in the semi-finals and as a result of the heavy defeat, qualified second. This meant they had to face an Australian side that had just beaten them 6-1 in a one day series in England, and that coupled with the loss of momentum saw England crash to another heavy defeat against Ricky Ponting’s men.
Has this England Side Turned the Tables?
Yesterday, New Zealand again won the toss, but this time they faced a very different England. Paul Collingwood’s side were determined, focused and ruthless in their demeanour even without their best player Kevin Pietersen. They restricted New Zealand to 149 for six, which was a challenging but highly gettable target and then batted like a side determined to avoid Australia in the semi-final. As a result, form, spirit and momentum has been maintained, and we at the Reverse Sweep are consequently confident that my pre-tournament prediction that England would win the tournament is still looking on (whilst the other David’s T20 World Cup Preview has flopped).
As we wrote after the win against South Africa, the side looks settled and well balanced. Lumb and Kieswetter keep giving the team fast starts, which has helped England become the only chasing team to win in the Super Eight stage – twice against Pakistan as well as the Black Caps. New father Pietersen looks in fine fettle and Eoin Morgan keeps astounding even his team-mates with his audacity and repertoire of strokes.
Finally, a word for Tim Bresnan. We couldn’t understand it when he first came into the side, and we made some harsh comments about him when he opened the bowling during the test series in Bangladesh. But he was England’s best seam bowler on that trip and his level of performance continues to markedly improve. His bowling is economical and he looks a very good number seven. No one had him down as Andrew Flintoff’s successor as England’s all-rounder, but Bresnan is making an unanswerable case for his selection in all forms of the game with his sustained level of performance.
As well as writing regularly for World Cricket Watch, David Green has his own blog entitled The Reverse Sweep, which is updated daily, and writes a twice weekly column for CricDude. You can also follow David on Twitter @TheReverseSweep.
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