England desperate to avoid 'horrendous' loss to Afghanistan
Mar. 12, 2015
SYDNEY (AP) — The mere suggestion that England is contemplating the ramifications of a potential loss to Afghanistan is in indication of how damaging the Cricket World Cup campaign has been on Eoin Morgan's squad.
Paul Farbrace, England's assistant coach, faced a news conference ahead of Friday's Pool A encounter against Afghanistan to answer questions about the team's last match of the tournament.
Neither team can reach the quarterfinals, with just one win apiece. England crashed out of contention with a 15-run loss to Bangladesh on Monday in Adelaide, another capitulation after heavy defeats to co-hosts Australia and New Zealand and a nine-wicket loss to Sri Lanka.
The review and fallout of the group-stage exit will wait until the team gets back to England, Farbrace said.
"For now, I promise you, the only focus is trying to get us in a great position where we can win tomorrow's game.
"And tomorrow's game, if losing the other day to Bangladesh was terrible, we couldn't possibly measure what it would be like if (Afghanistan beats England) because that would be horrendous," Farbrace said. "Our job now is to make sure we give ourselves the best chance, clear heads and go and play proper cricket tomorrow."
Both teams have beaten Scotland in the group stage, hardly the return England was expecting after spending months preparing the squad specifically for the World Cup and reaching the final of the recent international tri-series to Australia.
Farbrace said the loss to Bangladesh had taken a toll on the team.
"We've all felt the huge disappointment. We came here wanting to give it a go and really play some exciting cricket and we haven't done that," he said. "We got blown away in the first two games and I don't think we've really recovered from that. There has been a lot said about perhaps our nervousness and the tension that we're playing with. I think it's hard to argue against that."
Tournament newcomer Afghanistan has nothing to lose. It already has posted its first win at a World Cup, an achievement that sparked celebrations from Afghans around the world.
There have been some heavy defeats, including the record loss to four-time champion Australia in Perth last week, but the Afghan team remains upbeat. While some may have conceded they were slightly overawed by Australia, pace man Hamid Hassan said there was never any fear when they approached games.
"Afghan never scared, never scared," Hassan responded to questions about being overwhelmed in matches against the test-ranked teams. Hassan has taken seven wickets in the tournament and has been one of the fan favorites with his distinctive face paint in the pattern and colors of the national flag.
"No, no fears, no nothing," he said. "We have to play always brave. So we'll play tomorrow brave."