Harmison adds to England’s woes

I get the strong impression that England are ready to come home. This often happens to touring sides that have had a tough Test series, and then have to play a ODI series afterwards; ideally, all tours should have the ODI’s first, because otherwise touring sides lose interest rather quickly.

It’s the 4th ODI today between Pakistan and England, and Steve Harmison is in doubt with the flu. Despite this latest blow, Duncan Fletcher is still selling a positive spin to the media.

But Fletcher remained optimistic that his team, who are 2-1 down in the series with two matches to play, would be able to bounce back regardless.

“We’ve just got to play the same way we did in that first game,” he added, harking back to a powerful performance at Lahore, in which England batted first and put the game beyond reach with a total of 327 for 4. “We need to show the same approach. If we win tomorrow, we’ll have a slight advantage going into the last game.

“It’s all about doing the basics right,” added Fletcher. “We need to look to bowl in the right areas consistently, and when we bat we mustn’t worry about looking for too big a score up front, and forgetting how to get there. Instead our top three batters need to lay a good platform.”

Despite a record-equalling 165-run defeat at Karachi, Fletcher denied that weariness was beginning to take its toll on the team, and pointed out that their fielding drill under the Rawalpindi lights had been as eager as ever on tour.

“We said all along before we came out here, it’s going to be a difficult tour,” said Fletcher. “They are a very talented side, and they’ve played well and done their homework. We’ve got to make sure we put up performances like we’ve managed in the past.”

I guess he had to say something like that. It wouldn’t go down very well if he said “The boys are tired, sore, and pining for home. It’s hard to keep the lads motivated just before Christmas, when they are thinking of their families, especially for a ODI series which, in the bigger picture, does not mean that much.”

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