CRICKET: England need to make a statement against minnows Bangladesh and Afghanistan, says Sheffield batsman Joe Root

England's Joe Root, right.
England's Joe Root, right.
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Batsman Joe Root feels England need to make a convincing statement that they belong in the World Cup quarter-finals when they meet Bangladesh and Afghanistan in their final two group games.

England must win both matches, against lower-ranked opponents, to have any chance of reaching the knockout stage.

An early exit looms large after Sunday’s nine-wicket defeat to Sri Lanka in Wellington followed wide-margin beatings by co-hosts Australia and New Zealand.

That has piled the pressure on, albeit in two games Root points out that England would have needed to win in any circumstance.

“If you play those two games at the start of the competition you still have to win them,” Root said.

“The way our schedule is, we have these games towards the end. If it was broken up a bit more it might look slightly different.

“But it doesn’t take away from the fact that we want to win these two games convincingly.”

England’s hastened need to restore confidence is underlined by the fact that should they reach the last-eight they will now most likely play the highest-ranked team in Pool B.

That will almost certainly be either South Africa or world champions India, who England did beat twice during the Tri-Series leading up to the World Cup.

“We don’t want to just scrape through - we want to put in some really good performances and put to bed some of the things we’ve got wrong so far,” Root added.

“We know that if we get through to the quarter-finals we’ll be in a position where we have nothing to lose.

“There will be sides coming up against us who could potentially be quite timid and think they should beat us and that could work in our favour.

“By the time you get to that stage it’s crunch time and every side is under pressure; not just us. Hopefully we can get those wins and build some momentum.”

Root believes the gap between England and the best teams at the World Cup is not as large as their heavy defeats would suggest.

“I don’t think that’s fair,” he said.

“Yes, we have been beaten heavily in those three games, but I don’t think that we are that far away from beating those sides.

“If we get the best out of every individual and all play as well as we can then we are just as good as sides like that if not better. It’s about making sure, for the next two games especially, that we turn up and do everything we possibly can to put those performances in.

“That’s got to come from the individuals to make sure they front up. Not just the senior players; not just exciting young players coming into the side. From everyone.”

Root stood up to be counted in the Sri Lanka defeat when the 24-year-old became England’s young World Cup centurion.

His career-best 121 from 108 balls inspired England to a formidable 309 for six - the second successive match they had passed 300 - only for the bowlers to lack any penetration as twin tons from Lahiru Thirimanne and Kumar Sangakkara eased Sri Lanka to victory in 16 balls.

“At the start of the day, if you’d given us 310 we’d have thought that a very good effort,” Root said.

“Whenever you get 310 on the board you are immediately putting sides under pressure to chase it. Unfortunately we didn’t create that pressure with the ball and we didn’t do anything to make it difficult for them from 10 overs onwards.”

The ease of Sri Lanka’s chase suggested England did not set their sights high enough and, while Root admitted more risks can be taken with the bat, they had left Sri Lanka with a record chase at the ground.

“There was no feeling turning up to the game that 270 was a par score,” he said.

“We got out there, we played it as we saw it, there were periods when Sri Lanka bowled really well at us. We got 310 which, on that wicket, I felt was a good score.

“In one-day cricket maybe we could have taken a few more risks, potentially we could have gone a bit earlier at them, be more aggressive earlier. But it’s a fine balance. If you then lose two wickets - on that wicket, we’d done well to get to where we were.

“Unfortunately we couldn’t quite create the pressure with the ball that they did. We weren’t disciplined enough and we leaked too many boundaries.”