Gooch: England have World Cup chance
PUBLISHED: 09:17 17 February 2015 | UPDATED: 09:17 17 February 2015
Team must be more consistent says former captain
Former Essex and England captain Graham Gooch believes the national side can win the Cricket World Cup, but only if they show more consistency.
Leytonstone-born Gooch, 61, played in three World Cup finals during a glittering career, scoring 4,290 runs in 125 ODIs and a record 8,900 more in 118 Test matches.
And he also served as England batting coach, working closely with many of the current squad who begin their quest against hosts Australia this weekend.
He said: “That is probably the one disappointment I have had in my career. Reaching the final three times, and losing in three. One win would have been nice!
“I think we have got an outside chance. There is not a lot of expectation for our team. We are not classed as one of the favourites.
“We are very inconsistent. We are capable of winning against Australia, but can we win consistently in the tournament to win the World Cup?
“Whether you are playing soccer or rugby you have to start off the tournament well, but you do not have to play your best cricket at the beginning. You have to get through the games, win ugly, get through.
“You have to start playing your best cricket towards the end of the tournament. What concerns me about England is they are capable of beating anyone on their day, but their next performance is way below par. That inconsistency could cost them this World Cup.”
England go into the tournament on the back of a warm-up defeat against Pakistan on Wednesday, having beaten the West Indies two days earlier.
And that came after two wins against India, but three losses to Australia in a triangular series last month, and a 5-2 series loss to Sri Lanka before Christmas.
Gooch added: “I think they are going to stick to the same side that played in the Tri-Series. I see them playing four fast bowlers backed up by Moeen Ali and Joe Root, if they want another spinner.
“Ravi Bopara can bowl a bit, but he could lose his place to Gary Ballance, that is the only other change I can see happening. I hope that doesn’t happen with my Essex hat on. Otherwise, they have decided on their format.
“Do we have the X-factor? To make sure that you do not have to chase 300 to 320 every time you have to have people who can get wickets. James Anderson can get some up front, so can Stuart Broad – two world class bowlers. What slightly concerns me who is going to break partnerships in the middle overs?
“You are not going to keep it tight in Australia with two new balls, flat wickets. You have to have someone different – either mystery spin, or someone adept at bowling slower balls. One thing is for sure, they are not going to change their plan now unless the ball is going to spin.”
As for his own time working behind the scenes with England, Gooch has fond memories, but also some slight regrets.
As batting coach, he helped the team enjoy some great successes, before a disappointing end in the most recent Ashes series whitewash.
He added: “It is always an honour to be involved with England. I had a very good run for four or five years after being asked to go back with Andy Flower.
“At my age that was a real bonus and we had a lot of success. We won the Ashes three times, reached number one in the world and beat India 4-0 at home and beat them away.
“Sadly last winter it went wrong and there were going to be casualities. The side that was put together over that period was always going to break up at some stage and it probably broke up six months or one tour too early.
“We were hoping that team would get through Australia and perform well, but it did not come about because Australia were too good for us. We were very bad, they were very good.”
Gooch will be hoping the tables can be turned when the old enemies meet once again as the 2015 Cricket World Cup gets underway.
*Graham Gooch was talking on behalf of Sporting Celebrities to raise money for Haven House, in High Road, Woodford Green.