Pride on line when England plays Afghanistan at World Cup
SYDNEY (AP) — Four days after a loss to Bangladesh ended their hopes of reaching the World Cup quarterfinals, England’s cricketers return to play their last pool match Friday against an Afghanistan lineup they’re not taking lightly.
Heavy losses to Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka were followed by Monday’s 15-run defeat to the Bangladeshis in Adelaide. England’s only victory in its first five games at the World Cup came against Scotland, which is in last place in Pool A. Friday’s match at the Sydney Cricket Ground will give one of the teams fifth place and perhaps a more pleasant flight home.
After brutal criticism from former players and the media, the England squad just wants to restore a bit of pride to what has been a mostly disastrous campaign.
“We want to get back on the horse quite quickly and try and put in a performance that rectifies what we did the other night,” England paceman Chris Jordan said on Wednesday. “That’s the only way to deal with it.
“Everyone is gutted, for the fans that came out here and gutted for the fans home watching, and Friday is an opportunity to put that right.”
Tournament newcomer Afghanistan, which features several players who learned to play cricket while living in refugee camps in neighboring Pakistan, also beat Scotland in the group stage.
“They don’t have anything to lose,” Jordan said. “We have footage on every single player and it’s not a game that we will be taking lightly at all. We go into everything thoroughly, looking for weaknesses and for areas that we can exploit.”
Jordan defended the efforts of captain Eoin Morgan and coach Peter Moores and said the team had been well-prepared mentally, physically and technically.
“Pete has done a brilliant job. He comes in with enthusiasm every day and gets the boys up for training and gets the boys up for games,” Jordan said. “It’s a bit disappointing that us as players didn’t put in the performances we should have done.”
Despite the failures in Australia and New Zealand, Jordan said the English approach to one-day cricket wasn’t in need of an overhaul.
“There’s loads of talent, not only in that dressing room, but in the whole of England.” Jordan said. “We’ve beaten some good teams in the past and we will beat good teams again in the future, I don’t think there needs to be any wholesale changes.”
Afghanistan captain Mohammad Nabi said after his team’s six-wicket loss to New Zealand on Sunday that his fledgling lineup is enjoying playing against top test countries. That might not be the case in 2019 when the World Cup is reduced to 10 teams from the current 14, and second-tier teams such as Afghanistan will have to advance from a qualifying tournament to decide just two of those 10 places.
“We expected a lot at this tournament to play good cricket and to show it to the world,” Nabi said. “We showed in the bowling, we have good fast bowlers and we have good fielders as well. But we didn’t show it in our talent on the batting side because in the top order we didn’t click in the whole tournament.
“It’s hard for the next World Cup, but we’ll try our best.”