England aim for crushing win over Namibia

Published: Tuesday, February 18, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Port Elizabeth: England will aim to carry on from where it left off against The Netherlands when it takes on Group 'A' minnows Namibia at St George's Park on Wednesday.

England, who forfeited four points after boycotting its opener against Zimbabwe in Harare on security grounds, cannot afford any slip-ups. Against the Dutch, Nasser Hussain's men won comfortably enough. But, worryingly, The Netherlands belied its modest status by batting out the full 50 overs while England lost four wickets overhauling a small total of 142. And Hussain knows that his team has to be utterly ruthless against the Africans. "We are running out of chances. There's no coming back from a loss.

We have to win convincingly," he said. "We have to look at it like a knockout cup run." England is likely to stick with the same side that defeated the Dutch, a match where rookie fast bowler James Anderson took 4 for 25, the best figures by an Englishman in One-day International cricket since spinner Vic Marks' 5 for 39 against Canada 20 years ago. "James did well considering he hasn't bowled for a couple of weeks," Hussain said. Sunday's match also saw pace bowling all-rounder Craig White get through 10 overs despite a recent recurrence of the side strain injury that cut short his Ashes tour of Australia.

However, an England spokesman told on Monday that White was fit and available for selection, its only concern being a slight bout of tonsillitis suffered by left-arm spinner Ashley Giles. But as the Warwickshire bowler lost his place in the side against The Netherlands to Ian Blackwell, who is a better batsman, Giles' absence is unlikely to worry England at this stage. As for Namibia, coached by former England One-day International all-rounder Dougie Brown, it will be desperate to improve on the 171-run hiding it received from Pakistan on Sunday where Wasim Akram and Shoaib Akhtar terrorised its batsmen. And Brown, a Warwickshire teammate of both Giles and England opening bat Nick Knight, insisted his charges would not be overawed by the task in front of them.

"This is what the World Cup is all about, playing against the best teams. The boys will be ready, they'll give it their best. If we get a good start, who knows what might happen?" But Brown is well aware of how England will approach the match. "They'll be up for it for sure. They'll want to turn us over and get their run-rate as high as possible because that could prove crucial if they want to qualify for the Super Six." That will certainly be the aim of the England batsmen but with matches against Pakistan, India and in-form world champions Australia still to come, Hussain knows better than anyone that his team's toughest tasks are still ahead of them.


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