KEY PLAY­ERS NEEDED

Mor­gan bank­ing on IPL trio to boost Eng­land

New Straits Times - - Sport -

EOIN Mor­gan is hop­ing the re­turn of three key play­ers from the In­dian Premier League will help Eng­land de­feat top-ranked South Africa in their up­com­ing one-day in­ter­na­tional se­ries.

A three-match con­test be­tween the sides started with a day/nighter at Head­in­g­ley yes­ter­day, with the se­ries given added spice by the fact it acts as a warm-up for next week’s Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy tour­na­ment in Eng­land and Wales.

That com­pe­ti­tion will see Eng­land try­ing to end their 42-year wait for a maiden ma­jor In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil ODI tro­phy, with the 2010 World Twenty their lone global short-for­mat ti­tle.

All-rounders Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes, to­gether with wicket-keeper Jos But­tler, were all given per­mis­sion to miss Eng­land’s open­ing two ODIs this sea­son against Mor­gan’s na­tive Ire­land and in­stead ex­tend their IPL stints.

Stokes and But­tler, who played for Ris­ing Pune Su­per­giant and Mumbai In­di­ans re­spec­tively, might have been in op­po­si­tion in Sun­day’s fi­nal had they not been re­called to an Eng­land train­ing camp in Spain.

For­mer Eng­land bats­man Kevin Pi­etersen told Sky Sports the de­ci­sion was “an ab­so­lute sham­bles.”

“What are they go­ing to Spain for? To field a cou­ple of balls? They should be play­ing in the IPL,” he said.

Stokes — paid a record US$2.16 mil­lion (RM9.72 mil­lion) to play the eight-week IPL sea­son — was in­stru­men­tal in Pune reach­ing the knock­out phase af­ter a bril­liant de­but cam­paign in the lu­cra­tive Twenty20 com­pe­ti­tion.

The 25-year-old left-handed bats­man and right-handed pace bowler scored 316 runs in 12 matches, with a high­est of 103 not out, and took 12 wick­ets.

Nasser Hus­sain, like Pi­etersen a for­mer Eng­land cap­tain, de­fended Stokes’s re­call to na­tional train­ing duty by say­ing: “The rea­son he got an IPL deal was be­cause of how won­der­ful he has been for Eng­land.

“When they tell you to turn up to a train­ing camp you turn up to a train­ing camp to pre­pare for a tour­na­ment that we have un­der­achieved in for 20-30 years.”

Mor­gan, him­self an IPL player, was sim­ply de­lighted to have sev­eral key men back on board.

“It’s a huge ben­e­fit hav­ing three match-win­ners come back into the team hav­ing watched them con­trib­ute so much to the IPL,” Mor­gan told re­porters at Head­in­g­ley on Tues­day.

“Ben Stokes comes back as the com­pe­ti­tion’s MVP (most valu­able player) and it’s great to see him per­form­ing so well in what is the big­gest do­mes­tic tour­na­ment in the world.

“Jos is one of the best in the world as well and Chris has been an im­por­tant part of Kolkata Knight Rid­ers’ road to the fi­nal stages.”

Stokes found him­self play­ing in the same IPL side as Aus­tralia cap­tain Steve Smith, who’ll be a de­ter­mined op­po­nent when Eng­land travel ‘Down Un­der’ later this year in de­fence of the Ashes.

“I re­mem­ber do­ing a bat­ting ses­sion with some power hit­ting to­wards the end where the guy who I will ac­tu­ally be play­ing against in the Ashes (Smith) was help­ing me, which is some­thing that you would never be able to fathom when you are play­ing against each other,” said Stokes. “It was re­ally good ac­tu­ally.” While Stokes re­turns to bol­ster Eng­land, the fact South Africans such as Kyle Ab­bott, Rilee Ros­souw, Dane Vi­las, Sti­aan van Zyl and David Wiese have all cut short their in­ter­na­tional ca­reers in favour of the fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity of county con­tracts has been brought into even greater fo­cus now the Proteas are in Eng­land.

“It’s part and par­cel of what we are con­fronted with in re­cent times,” said South Africa cap­tain AB de Vil­liers on Tues­day.

“We can’t stop guys from go­ing where they want to and play­ing where they want to play.”

De Vil­liers added, how­ever: “We’ve no rea­son not to be con­fi­dent.

“We’ve beaten Aus­tralia, Sri Lanka and New Zealand re­cently so we’re con­fi­dent, we’re not harp­ing too much on what we’ve lost be­cause we’d rather fo­cus on what we’ve gained in the last few months.” AFP

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