Three wins out of three and yet, the mood is not as ecstatic as one would expect. “Doesn’t matter,” quipped Ashley Jackson. But, he offered a more serious reply immediately after.
The ongoing Hockey World League’s format has befuddled many as all teams, irrespective of their performance in group matches, go through to the quarterfinals.
“We trained hard in dark and wet weather before the tournament. These six games here will serve as good preparation for the World Cup. It’s a strange format,” said Jackson.
The 2009 FIH young player of the year converted two penalty corners as England trounced New Zealand 5-1 at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here on Monday.
But, if Jackson is to be believed, his side is yet to play its best hockey. “We have played good bits through the games. In our previous match, there were periods when Germany was better than us.
“We struggled with our energy, especially at the start. But we defended for our lives and held on.
“We showed a bit of class today (against NZ), scored a lot of goals,” he said.
England meets Belgium in the quarterfinals and seems a good bet to win a medal. Jackson is certainly driven to win silverware here, claiming that the experience of playing in the 2013 Hero Hockey India League has given him the motivation to excel.
The 26-year-old underwent surgery last summer after playing with a bad ankle for almost a year. The midfielder has three goals to his credit already in this tournament, all from penalty corners.
“I’m reasonably happy with my performance. Before scoring against Germany, I hadn’t scored for a long time. The surface is a bit wobbly and harder here.
“It’s very easy to flick the ball off the surface. It’s very skippy as well, when the ball is injected on a penalty corner. So, it’s difficult to trap the ball.”