England have 'puncher's chance'

  • Last Updated: March 10 2014, 18:16 GMT

Batting coach Graham Thorpe insists England have a "puncher's chance" of regaining the World Twenty20 title they won in the Caribbean four years ago.

Graham Thorpe: Staying optimistic ahead of the World Twenty20
Graham Thorpe: Staying optimistic ahead of the World Twenty20

Their chastening 27-run defeat in the first of three Twenty20 internationals against West Indies on Sunday was a distinctly unpromising performance, particularly because England were undone by spin - sure to be a potent weapon again for all contenders at the forthcoming tournament in Bangladesh.

Monday's confirmation that Joe Root will be absent in the sub-continent because of his broken thumb - Ian Bell will be his replacement - and injury worries over captain Stuart Broad and his deputy Eoin Morgan, both struggling with knee trouble, are no help either.

Thorpe is nonetheless still optimistic about England's prospects.

They will also, of course, be without Kevin Pietersen - after the England and Wales Cricket Board axed the controversial record runscorer from all future plans - here, in Bangladesh and anywhere else.

"The simple fact is he's not here, and he's not going to be here," Thorpe said of Pietersen, after England's remaining batsmen had collectively faltered to go 1-0 down with two to play at the Kensington Oval.

"We have what we have in the squad, and for me it's capable of surprising people in Bangladesh.

"But to do that, we must be bold.

"I would rather see us go down in Bangladesh having a real good go up front and attacking, so that's at the forefront of our minds.

"We actually want to win it, and that's what we'll have to do."

England failed to get out of the group stages when they tried to defend their title in Sri Lanka in 2012, Pietersen absent then too during his 'reintegration' phase.

Few rate their chances highly of performing significantly better this time.

But Thorpe added: "At the Twenty20 World Cup, we have a puncher's chance if we get things right.

"I think that's the realistic side of it for me.

"If we can get through that group, we've done very, very well. Then we have a puncher's chance in the knockout stages.

"We will only do that by being bold and upbeat about our performances, and not getting too down when we do get beat."

A dose of realism may not go amiss either - especially after West Indies' spinners took six England wickets for 46 in 10 overs at the weekend.

The tourists will be up against the same opponents, at the same venue, on Tuesday - a must-win fixture if they are to avoid series defeat.

A 7,000-mile trip east, via London, will then await them before two warm-up matches in Fatullah and then the start of their campaign in Chittagong.

"We know we need to improve and we know we need to work out what is our best line-up - and we have four games to go until our first one," said Thorpe.

As for their opening Twenty20 defeat against the Windies, Thorpe acknowledges England perhaps did not assess conditions as well as they might.

"We knew there would be bounce - but yes I think we did (misread the pitch) in terms of the spin option.

"Overall, would it have made a huge difference?

"Possibly not. Those are the little issues we have to address so we will have to look at that at selection for the next game."

One more victory here at least - England beat the Windies in last week's one-day international series - would be heartening on the way to Bangladesh.

But it is there that they will face the biggest challenge.

"I don't think we will ever say we dominate in the sub-continent," said Thorpe.

"In the first 50-over game (in Antigua), we had a few problems - and we addressed them, and came back very well.

"It's about remaining upbeat, we want the guys up top to be positive."

He believes England must balance learning lessons from defeat, and dwelling unnecessarily on it.

"It can happen in Twenty20, it can run away from you pretty quickly in Bangladesh, we all know the footwork and shot selection are going to be crucial.

"We musn't panic from this game. We must look to take the confidence from the 50-over stuff, and come back in the next two."

To that end, England are likely to name at least one more spin option on Tuesday alongside James Tredwell.

The indications are that Morgan will be fit to lead the side in the absence of Broad, scheduled to have an injection on his patella tendinitis in the hope of recovering in time to return in Bangladesh.

Out-of-form number three Luke Wright is sure to be vulnerable, despite having won his 50th Twenty20 cap on Sunday and 100th in the two limited-overs formats.

For West Indies, key spinner Sunil Narine was set to have a scan after hurting his knee in the field on Sunday.

He was rated doubtful, but not definitely ruled out of the second match.

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