England mulling 'wake-up call' ahead of South Africa
England takes on South Africa on Sunday following what batsman Jonathan Trott described as the "wake-up call" of his side's defeat by Ireland.
Wednesday's three-wicket loss in Bangalore left England vulnerable in Group B, with the team needing to tighten its bowling and sharpen its fielding quickly ahead of a meeting with one of the strongest sides in the tournament.
"You have the teams you are expected to beat," Trott said. "Obviously the test-playing nations you are expected to have good battles against and win all the others. So to lose against a team like Ireland, who played really well toward the
end of their batting innings, was very unexpected but a good wake-up call for the team. "We now know what lies ahead of us and the job in hand and what we have to do to be able to progress."
England could probably afford to lose to a South Africa side that has so far disposed of the West Indies and the Netherlands without difficulty, but that will leave it needing to beat under-pressure co-host Bangladesh and the resurgent West Indies to progress.
"Guys are having a think about their own performances and their own roles in the team and having a think about what they need to do to be able to contribute to the team being successful," Trott said. "We can't look too much at the game we have just lost. I think it would be foolish if we looked backward. We want to go forward in this competition and it starts on Sunday with South Africa." England's players have started to look ahead to the match and the strengths of their opponents. Trott said he had thought about the match against his country of birth a while ago.
"A little bit," Trott said. "You always keep your eye open when the fixture lists come out and you see the opposition you are playing against. You obviously think about the time that you come up against them in the competition."
With Pakistan-born spinner Imran Tahir helping address South Africa's long-standing spinning weakness, England is up against a more well-rounded one-day side than the Proteas have fielded in recent years.
"The team they have, have a few more options in the spin department and they seem to have a few powerful batters as well, so a good all-round team," Trott said. "But definitely on the day of the week we hit our straps, we can compete and they are very beatable."
But spinner Graeme Swann has a groin injury, allrounder Paul Collingwood is having knee trouble and star batsman Kevin Pietersen is carrying a calf problem. The latter pair sat out training Friday. All three are expected to recover in time for Sunday but the loss of any would leave a big hole to fill. Swann took three wickets against Ireland and the English
bowlers only really lost their grip once he completed his 10 overs.
Tahir took 4-41 on his full debut against the West Indies and followed that up with 3-19 against the Dutch. South Africa will need all his wiles and the power of pacemen Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel to unsettle an English batting lineup that has so far prevented the side from slipping even deeper into trouble.
Batsman AB de Villiers has struck successive centuries in South Africa's first two games despite a long-standing lower back problem _ further aggravated by his wicketkeeping duties _ but should be fit to give England's bowlers a hard time.
"I'm enjoying my batting at the moment," De Villiers said. "I've worked really hard to get into the form I'm in after struggling a little bit."