next Februarys World Cup.
Its a big blow for England going into the one-day series
against Sri Lanka and Australia and for the Ashes team who were
hoping a fit Freddie would help them restore some pride in the
final two matches of the Ashes series.
Freddies misfortune is Adam Hollioakes gain, but it
really doesnt matter who England send out against Australia
these days all can expect a torrid time.
A measure of Englands plight can be seen in just how many
players have been involved so far Down Under. We have had no fewer
than 30 on duty compared to the normal 20, who would normally
be on duty for a Test ad one-day series. And England have not
only been stripped of Flintoff, but also Graham Thorpe, Michael
Vaughan, Darren Gough and Matthew Hoggard half the team they were
grooming over the last 18 months for World Cup glory next year.
It leaves us with one of the most inexperienced bowling attacks
we have ever had.
The Triangular Series
There has been no respite in the build-up to the triangular series
starting in Sydney on Friday because in the warm-up games, the
Australian sides have been extremely strong ones to keep us on
the back foot. No fools these Aussies, they play a very clever
game both on the field and in the mind.
But what a chance there is on Friday for our young hopefuls not
only to make a name for themselves, but also force their way into
the reckoning for the World Cup. Believe me, it gets no better
or intimidating - than a day-nighter match in Sydney with 50,000+
building up a tremendous atmosphere.
Not that the England players will feel lonely out there because
there will be 1,000s of Poms in the ground lending their
support even though they appreciate Englands chances are
slim and slimmer.
These are the days a professional cricketer plays for even though
the lads must be a bit down at the moment. They just have to enjoy
themselves because without enjoyment there is no chance of success.
If we go out there believing we are going to get pummelled then
we might as well not bother putting the pads on.
You can be sure that Australia will expose any weakness so it
is vital that we do well against Sri Lanka. Heaven knows what
it will do to what is left of our confidence if we dont
reach the final.
Its doubtful that we will beat Australia at the moment
so that increases the pressure on us to do well against a Sri
Lankan side that does not normally impress on quick and bouncy
wickets as their recent trip to South Africa showed.
If we are going to make any impact at all then we have to get
into their medium pacers and dictate the play because you only
get your confidence back through winning.
That first win cannot come soon enough for England, but I wouldnt
bank on it tomorrow night against Australia.