England's Only Fear Is Their Own

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England's Only Fear Is Their Own
(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Having been together for the seven match Ashes afterthought, the squad of English cricketers that have descended on South Africa will be well used to each other, and if questioned would give the same answer for their 6-1 recent series embarrassment.

Confidence is a much discussed factor in elite level sport, but does a willingness to surrender it, point to more significant failings?

Collectively the squad seem to have accepted that they are low on confidence, undoubtedly they are, but does that mean they lose hope when the first wicket goes down or when they start their innings?

How much of the personal accountability that Andrew Strauss for in his early days of captaincy has been employed when the white ball is used?

At Test level, examples appear across the team, with the skipper himself leading the way and men such as Graeme Swann stepping up to do their job and do it well. Only three one day hundreds in the last 18 months, amassed by only two batsmen, suggest that the same lessons has yet to be carried across into the limited overs.

The fact that each game starts with the team knowing they are low on confidence can't be helped by the last act of the previous game, the press duties. Ten minutes with Michael Atherton maligning the fact its all gone wrong again because of the teams low confidence fulfils the soundbite quota, but also means the day finishes on a resigned tone.

A month ago, England's Oval fightback was set in motion by two futile but spirited innings by Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann, directly after a major batting collapse.

Those innings, and indeed the subsequent Oval victory, showed how English cricketers are capable of ignoring a lack of confidence when they put their minds to it. Need to avert a record 7-0 whitewash? It wasn't smoothly done, but it was done nonetheless.

Its hard to pin point the exact disappearance of the English confidence in the recent Australia series. Its hard to believe it left after being beaten in the first ODI by four runs, but it seems certain to have departed in time for the game at Lords.

Does this mean that the Oval ODI press conference is the root of all evil or that the first ODI flattered England's one day team. Do the whispers of pyjama cricket, elongated summers or Test supremacy have much more to do with it?

Excuses like that should be irrelevant, but "a lack of confidence" seems to be accepted as a respectable way to explain away each loss.

The arguments will go on about whether England have found the right team or have the right strategy to succeed in the Champions Trophy or the World Cup. To change their one day tide, England need a few players to say "I'm going to do my job" rather than all of them saying "We are failing to do ours".

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