New Straits Times - - Sport -


ENG­LAND cap­tain Eoin Mor­gan moved to al­lay con­cerns over the fit­ness of Ben Stokes as the hosts launched their one-day in­ter­na­tional se­ries against South Africa with a con­vinc­ing 72-run win at Head­in­g­ley on Wed­nes­day.

The only cloud on the hori­zon as Eng­land went 1-0 up in a three-match contest ahead of next week’s Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy tour­na­ment on home soil was the sight of Stokes leav­ing the field dur­ing the sec­ond in­nings af­ter suf­fer­ing pain in his left knee.

Stokes, in his first Eng­land match since his most valu­able player-win­ning stint in the lu­cra­tive In­dian Pre­mier League com­pe­ti­tion, came back on later but did not add to his tally of two overs.

Mor­gan, whose 107 laid the plat­form for Eng­land’s win over the Proteas, the world’s topranked ODI side, said Stokes had been given the all clear to bowl by med­i­cal staff but that he saw no point in re­call­ing him to the at­tack with the home team on the brink of a com­mand­ing win un­der the Head­in­g­ley flood­lights.

Stokes had surgery on the same knee last year but Mor­gan in­sisted all was well with his star all-rounder.

“When he came back on the field he was fit to bowl, but we man­aged to take a wicket when he came back on and I felt bowl­ing him again, even though he was fit, wasn’t worth the risk... give him an ex­tra day or two with ice,” said Mor­gan.

“It doesn’t even have swelling, no sig­nif­i­cant signs of an in­jury, but we’ll as­sess that in the next cou­ple of days.

“He did the right thing, went off to get checked, be­cause knees can leave you out for up to six months or a year if some­thing sig­nif­i­cant does hap­pen.

“He came back on with the green light to bowl and was run­ning around, but he un­der­stands. He’s an ex­pe­ri­enced cam­paigner.”

Mor­gan’s in­nings and an un­beaten 77 from Moeen Ali, with the two left-han­ders shar­ing a cen­tury stand, helped Eng­land pile up 339 for six against South Africa.

They then dis­missed the Proteas for 267 with five overs to spare, Ali win­ning the man-ofthe-match award af­ter tak­ing two wick­ets with his off-spin.

A de­lighted Mor­gan added: “It was the best way we could have started, a very good day at the of­fice and a pretty com­plete per­for­mance.

“It’s very sat­is­fy­ing putting in a per­for­mance like that, es­pe­cially against a re­ally, re­ally strong team and given the start they got and the cal­i­bre of bat­ting all the way down the or­der,” the former Ire­land bats­man added.

Mean­while South Africa cap­tain AB de Vil­liers said his side had been un­able to con­tain an Eng­land team who plun­dered 102 runs from their last 10 overs af­ter he had sent them into bat.

“Eng­land played phe­nom­e­nally well with the bat, credit to Morgs for the hun­dred,” said de Vil­liers.

“We couldn’t get a part­ner­ship go­ing and at the end of the day we were out­played.”

The se­ries con­tin­ues at Southamp­ton to­mor­row. AFP

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