CHRISTCHURCH: Under-fire England have fuelled Scotland's self-belief going into their World Cup Pool B showdown at Hagley Oval in Christchurch on Monday. At any other time the outcome would be a foregone conclusion with England expected to cruise to victory without pressure. But for England these are not ordinary times. They have come into the...
CHRISTCHURCH: Under-fire England have fuelled Scotland's self-belief going into their World Cup Pool B showdown at Hagley Oval in Christchurch on Monday.
At any other time the outcome would be a foregone conclusion with England expected to cruise to victory without pressure.
But for England these are not ordinary times. They have come into the World Cup with a battle plan that is not working and key players struggling for form.
After a 111-run thrashing by Australia in their Cup opener, they were even more out of their depth on Friday when New Zealand whipped them by eight wickets.
Two games, two losses and a humiliated England — now under pressure to avoid falling to a low-ranked side such as Scotland — are searching for answers while the Scots are talking up their chances of an historic win.
Scotland fared considerably better against New Zealand when they scored 142 and it took the tournament co-hosts 25 overs and the loss of seven wickets to secure victory.
By comparison, England's 123 was mown down in 12.2 overs for the loss of only two wickets.
England's opening partnerships against Australia and New Zealand were 25 and 18. Against Australia they were 92 for six and against New Zealand 108 for six with the cream of their batting back in the hutch.
James Taylor's 98 against Australia is the only score over 50 and Chris Woakes' has the only respectable bowling figures with two for eight against New Zealand.
Of England's main strike bowlers, James Anderson sent down 15 overs in the first two games for a return of none for 104. His new-ball partner Stuart Broad has figures of two for 93 from 12.2 overs.
“England don't look as if they'll get out of the group at this stage,” was the blunt assessment of former England captain Paul Collingwood who has switched loyalties to Scotland since joining their coaching staff.
There have only been two completed games between England and Scotland, in 2010 and 2014, and England won both with ease.
But times have changed and Collingwood, who led England to the World Twenty20 crown five years ago, said Scotland held a “real confidence and belief” they can win now.
“That's going to be an amazing feeling if we can get that first-ever World Cup win under our belt, there's no better time than against England.”
Collingwood was not alone with former England opener-turned-commentator Geoffrey Boycott admitting to being “a bit nervous” a head of Monday's clash.
Although Scotland rarely get to measure themselves against Test-playing nations nine of their squad — all of them professionals — have county cricket experience.
And if Scotland do stun England then an Englishman could well be central to their success.
Tenacious batsman Matt Machan, Sussex-born of Scottish parents, has a handy 37.75 ODI average and scored 56 against New Zealand.
Four years back, England showed they are there for the taking by the lesser sides when they lost to Ireland by three wickets at the 2011 World Cup. –AFP