Exiled England batsman Kevin Pietersen believes his former team mates can win the World Cup if they play with freedom even though their dreadful record in the last five tournaments suggests otherwise. (Full Coverage| Venues | Fixtures)
Since reaching the final of the 1992 World Cup, where they lost to Pakistan, England’s form at the tournament is the worst of the frontline cricketing nations.
England have won 16 matches since 1992, compared to four-times champions Australia’s 38, and are the only leading nation not to have qualified for at least one semi-final in that time.
But Pietersen, who scored 575 World Cup runs, told the Daily Telegraph ahead of England’s World Cup opener against Australia in Melbourne on Saturday that a lack of expectation could work in their favour.
“I really do believe they have an outside chance of winning this World Cup,” Pietersen said. “They can play with freedom because nobody really expects them to win the tournament and this should be reflected in positivity throughout their batting.
“England have struggled in World Cups for 20 years because we have played directly after an Ashes and have been mentally shot. There are no excuses this time.
“England’s preparation has been spectacular. They have played Australia and seen what tough cricket is about. You cannot ask for more going into a World Cup.”
England captain Eoin Morgan replaced Alastair Cook after the Essex batsman was dumped for a lack of form late last year, but since scoring 121 against Australia in a tri-series match on Jan. 16, the 28-year-old has scored zero, two, zero and zero runs in his next four innings.
However, Pietersen thinks Morgan’s style of captaincy is more in-tune with the demands of modern 50-over cricket and will provide England with plenty of inventiveness with bat and ball.
“Morgan will be positive. That is the way he plays and you always captain how you bat, which means taking risks,” he said.
“I like the way he has rotated his bowlers and set his fields. You need confidence when deciding how to use your bowlers, a key tactic, and an ability to make wise decisions when pressure mounts.
“That is when you need a calm leader such as Eoin. He is a good man and the players will know and understand that. He will be harsh when he needs to be, so players will know not to take the mickey.”
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