KEEPING LORD'S WORLD CLASS
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Former skipper Michael Vaughan has urged England gamble and take more risks in their pursuit of the ICC World Cup - insisting they can still come out on top in an open tournament.
Vaughan, who captained England in the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean, thinks the side who perform best with the ball will lift the trophy in Mumbai on 2 April.
England have impressed with the bat so far in this tournament, racking up scores of 296, 338 and 327.
England's bowlers have been poor though and were sensationally slayed by Ireland in their third group match thanks to Kevin O'Brien's magnificent 50-ball century.
Vaughan accepts England need to show a vast improvement with the ball and in the field to reach the quarter final stage, but still backed them to rediscover their form.
He said: "They’ve not bowled well and they’ll know that. They can also probably field a lot better and squeeze 25 more runs out of the opposition, maybe more.
"There’s a big improvement in the field that can happen but England have set huge levels in the last year or so and they’ll know that to progress in this World Cup they’ll have to reach them again.
"If they do, I honestly think they’ve got a great chance of winning because there is no standout team, no great team in this World Cup."
Lead from the front
Current England skipper Andrew Strauss has led England from the front with the bat in the tournament so far, and leads the top run-scorers list with 280.
He has had his work cut out tactically though as England have produced unusually tepid displays in the field.
Vaughan, England’s most successful Test match captain, sympathised with his former teammate as well as highlighting the areas he thinks he should exploit:
"It’s difficult to captain when the ball is travelling around. A captain is only as good as his bowlers. Strauss has done really well leading the team as a batsman." added the 36-year-old.
"With our attack we might have to be a bit more shrewd and set more fields which may entice the big shot to create a wicket.
"The skill is knowing when to go for wickets, I really think you’ve got to target wickets in this World Cup because otherwise teams are going to get really big scores.
"Even gambling early with more attacking fields to try and force the wicket rather than setting a really defensive field.
"That could be the way of winning this World Cup, by going for the wickets early to try and put the opposition on the back foot.
"I guess we’re going to have to use all our mind and skill levels in the field to produce some wickets and we can do that definitely."
Hosts India were identified by most observers as pre-tournament favourites.
The hosts have looked brutal with bat in hand, but like England have been less than impressive in the field.
Vaughan reiterated his belief that the winner of the tournament will be the team with the most destructive bowlers - not batsmen.
"It’s a very closely fought World Cup now, it’s very difficult to predict who’s going to go on and win it.
"The team that’s going to win it will probably have the best bowling attack because most teams can bat pretty deep these days." added Vaughan, who is an Honorary Life Member of MCC.
"They’re all very similar in the way they play and I think wickets are going to be so important because the pitches are so good.
"If you’ve got two or three guys in your attack who can get wickets - be they spinners or quick bowlers - then you have a chance.
"India have gone 338 against England and being the favourites, I honestly think that they must improve their fielding and bowling by a huge amount if they’re going to go on and win it because you can’t just win it on batting.
"England have got a good chance if they can get Swann bowling well and the seamers can take early wickets.
"Anderson will have to come to the fore more though and England’s bowling and fielding will have to get better if they’re going to go on and win it.
"But I think they’ve got it in them to carry on and win it."