Duncan Fletcher has played down the significance of tomorrow’s final warm-up match against Australia as he weighs up his bowling options for England’s World Cup challenge.
Having triumphed over Australia three times in succession, including winning both of the Commonwealth Bank series finals, England could further damage the world champions’ morale and preparations with another triumph at Arnos Vale tomorrow.
But coach Duncan Fletcher believes the team performance in another game where both sides can use 13 players will be just as important to England’s World Cup ambitions as a victory over Australia in a practice match.
"It’s an important game, but we’ve still got to use it as practice," said Fletcher. "There are certain areas and we want to look at things and it’s very difficult to do that in a high-powered game like this.
"It would be nice to go out there and win another game against Australia just to help keep us on those winning ways, but it’s a difficult game because we also want to look at players and how we use them can be very important.
"It’s also going to be interesting to see how they use this game. They will probably do the same as us because I don’t know if they’ve settled on their combinations and if they also use it as a practice game it might not be as significant as people make out."
England’s major dilemma just eight days before their tournament opener against New Zealand at St Lucia is the make-up of their bowling attack.
Sajid Mahmood and Liam Plunkett finished the one-day series down under impressively, but Jon Lewis (ankle) and James Anderson (back) are now also under consideration for the two remaining seamer’s berths after returning early from Australia.
"We’d like to look at our bowlers and look at those combinations and try and use it as best we can," stressed Fletcher.
"We finished off in Australia with a group of bowlers who had done well, but we still believe we have two other good bowlers in Jon Lewis and Jimmy Anderson and it’s going to be a difficult decision as to who we leave out and who we bring in."
The only other possible concern to England’s otherwise trouble-free preparations is the fitness of captain Michael Vaughan, who has only just returned from the hamstring trouble which forced him home early from Australia.
Vaughan scored 18, but fielded for only 10 overs during Monday’s emphatic opening warm-up victory over Bermuda and although he is expected to increase that workload against Australia, Fletcher does not expect him to field for the whole innings.