New Delhi: England batting coach Graham Gooch believes Andrew Strauss`s men can succeed where he failed as a player and win the World Cup.
The former England captain enjoyed a distinguished and lengthy career as an opening batsman, helping win a couple of Ashes series and posting the Test record score at Lord`s of 333 against India in 1990. But he also became the answer to a somewhat unkind quiz question: name the one England player who appeared in all three of their losing World Cup finals in three different decades?
"Winning a World Cup didn`t happen for me," said Gooch, beaten in finals against the West Indies (1979), Australia (1987) and Pakistan (1992). "I hope this team have got it within them to win the World Cup -- and I`m convinced they have," added Gooch, brought back into the national set-up by head coach Andy Flower.
Gooch said it was England`s spirit that had impressed him most in a see-saw group phase where they tied with India and beat South Africa yet lost to both Ireland and Bangladesh. They also came back from the brink of defeat against the West Indies in a match they had to win to reach the quarter-finals.
"They`ve come through this first stage of the competition, shown their fighting qualities and their resilience," added Gooch. "We can get better, and if we do we have as good a chance as anyone else." The objective was to get into the knockout stages. We`ve made that; we`ve scraped through. We`re not going to look back; we`re going to look forward to the next challenge."
That sees England facing Sri Lanka in the last eight on the co-hosts` own turf in Colombo on Saturday. Sri Lanka, who boast dynamic batsmen in Tillakaratne Dilshan and captain Kumar Sangakkara, as well as slingshot seamer Lasith Malinga and off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, have been tipped to repeat their 1996 World Cup triumph. "Sri Lanka in their own country are a top team -- world-class players with lots of experience," said Gooch.
"But that`s one of the beauties of playing the game. You look forward to those challenges, to coming up against those players. Muralitharan is a world-class bowler, who`s been around for a long time and makes the contest even more juicy than normal. But England are not worried about winning or losing. What they`re worried about and should be concentrating on is getting our own game right, playing the game we want to play.”
"If we do that, we`ll have a good chance of winning that quarter-final. They won`t fear that opposition; they`ll look forward to competing with that opposition," he insisted.