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Injury-hit England set for gruelling World Cup

England may have won the Ashes and triumphed at the 2010 World Twenty20 but even their fans may think twice about backing them to win the World Cup after an injury-hit finale to their tour of Australia.

cricket Updated: Feb 07, 2011 09:49 IST

England may have won the Ashes and triumphed at the 2010 World Twenty20 but even their fans may think twice about backing them to win the World Cup after an injury-hit finale to their tour of Australia.

Not only did they lose a seven-match one-day series 6-1, bad enough in itself, they also ended the tour with injury worries regarding six members of their 15-man squad.

The most concerning was to left-handed batsman Eoin Morgan, who already in his relatively brief England career has more than once demonstrated the happy knack of being able to pace a run chase with a mixture of conventional strokeplay and quirky reverse hits.

But the former Ireland international is now in danger of missing the World Cup completely after fracturing a finger in the fourth one-dayer against Australia.

Veteran all-rounder Paul Collingwood (back spasm), Yorkshire seamers Ajmal Shahzad (hamstring) and Tim Bresnan (calf), key off-spinner Graeme Swann (back/knee) and pace bowler Stuart Broad (abdominal strain) also had their tour of Australia cut short by injury.

"We're pretty confident the other guys are going to be fit, but Eoin Morgan we are not sure of at this stage," said England captain Andrew Strauss of his Middlesex team-mate.

"It's a big loss for us potentially. He is particularly important in those conditions as well, being able to clear the ropes in the manner that he does."

England have just a three-day turnaround in between returning home and then flying out to the sub-continent ahead of their World Cup opener against the Netherlands -- a team they lost to in the 2009 World Twenty20 at Lord's -- on February 22.

"The first thing to ponder is who is fit and who is not fit," Strauss said.

Since making the last of their three losing appearances in a World Cup final in 1992, England have often struggled to find a top-order batsman capable of exploiting the fielding restrictions in the first 15 overs.

The tour of Australia did see Jonathan Trott come good in both the Tests and one-dayers, including a fine innings of 137 in an England record total off 333 for six in the sixth ODI in Sydney.

But the fact England still lost that match highlights worries about their ability to bowl with sufficient accuracy.

For all that one-day cricket was pioneered as a professional sport by the county game in the 1960s, England have never won a World Cup.

Both England players and administrators believe they are unlikely to do so for as long as the World Cup follows an Ashes tour in Australia -- always considered the ultimate challenge for an England cricketer.

And it's hard to shake the view that while Test success is cherished in England, one-day wins are treated as an optional extra.

Australia, three-times successive World Cup champions, would be the first to point out that playing in Ashes series ahead of the global showpiece need not damage your prospects unduly.

But then again, they have been at home and, for much of the time, have been winning more often than not against their old rivals.

Certainly, it is to avoid a clash with the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, that England have brought forward their next Ashes tour to 2013/14.

"Our schedule is ridiculous going into this World Cup," said Kevin Pietersen, arguably England's most talented batsman and a man they could do with firing on all cylinders in Asia.

"It has been for England teams for a very long time, and that's probably why England have not done well in World Cups."