Captain Morgan acclaims England strength in depth
Captain says World Cup win has brought huge confidence Experienced fringe players to have chance in Ireland ODIs
Eoin Morgan believes that England’s one-day depth is better than ever as their 2023 World Cup qualification campaign begins with a three-match series against Ireland. “There is such a big pool of players who are unbelievably talented,” Morgan (right) said ahead of the world champions’ first ODI at the Ageas Bowl today.
Eoin Morgan believes that England’s one-day depth is better than ever as their 2023 World Cup qualification campaign begins with a three-match series against Ireland.
“There is such a big pool of players who are unbelievably talented,” Morgan said ahead of England’s first one-day international against Ireland at the Ageas Bowl.
“Yes, we don’t know whether they will succeed in international cricket, but you are comfortable selecting them in the squad for if you need them at any stage.”
England’s 14-man squad to play Ireland includes eight of their
World Cup-winning squad, though Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler, Joe Root, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood are all missing due to their involvement in the Test squad. Their absences mean fringe players, including exciting batsman Tom Banton and fast bowler Saqib Mahmood, are involved. England’s batting depth is such that Phil Salt, who blitzed a 58-ball century against Ireland for England Lions on Sunday, was omitted.
“Selection was particularly difficult,” Morgan said. “The standard and skill level that has been produced since we have come together has been exceptional. It’s been way above the standard that I expected given the time we had off.”
England will be encouraged to play in the same buccaneering style that has been used since the 2015 World Cup. Morgan is targeting more trophies as England’s thoughts turn to the next two T20 World Cups – in 2021 and 2022 – and the ODI World Cup in 2023.
“We want to win more trophies,” Morgan said. “We are at the start of a new journey with new players, trying to implement very similar plans.
“There is a very small amount of framework by the way we operate our batting and a lot is just trying to apply pressure on the opposition the whole time.
“Our batters do that regardless of
the number that is beside where they bat.”
Morgan believes England’s status as World Cup holders has brought a new confidence, saying: “Winning last year has given our guys a huge amount of confidence in the process, strategy and planning which we went through over a four-year period. It allows us to go into every
World Cup with that strategy and forward-thinking.”
The matches will be England’s first on home soil as world champions and form the start of the qualification campaign for the 2023 World Cup. The 13 teams in the ODI Super League will each play eight series of three matches. The top seven – along with India, who automatically qualify as hosts – will go through, with the other sides entering a qualification period to reach the 10-team event.
“Given the context of everything that’s gone on over the past five months or so, we are extremely happy to be playing,” Morgan said. “We’re just delighted both to be back playing but also to have cricket back on TV.”
Morgan admitted that the lack of a crowd might be more pronounced than in Test cricket. “I think there will be different challenges. Fielding will be one – maintaining that standard. Yes, you are playing in an international game but there isn’t a level of expectation on everybody that we need to upkeep. I think that will be one of the huge challenges in keeping the intensity.”
England will use the matches to give further opportunities to experienced players on the fringes. Morgan said that identifying players who could bat in the middle order
‘A lot is just trying to apply pressure on rivals the whole time’
was particularly important. Joe Denly, who was dropped from the Test team after the first Test against West Indies, will retain his place after scores of 87 and 66 from No5 in the ODIs against South Africa in February.
Sam Billings is set to keep wicket, and play his first ODI for two years, while James Vince, who has not played an ODI since deputising as the stand-in batsman in the World Cup, is also in the squad.
Morgan said that, for all the exciting white-ball talent England possessed, the experience of Denly, Billings and Vince was vital. “Going into the next World Cup we need experienced guys making good decisions under pressure,” he said.
Morgan defended the World Cup performance of Vince, who scored only 40 runs in his three matches as a stand-in for the injured Jason Roy, arguing that he was denied many chances to play before the tournament because Alex Hales was the spare batsman, before failing a drugs test.
David Willey returns to the squad along with Reece Topley, with England keen to include a left-arm pace bowler in their ODI and Twenty20 sides to provide variety.
Morgan, who represented Ireland until 2009, said that it was important that Ireland got more fixtures to help their development.
For Ireland, captain Andy Balbirnie made clear that these matches were central to the team’s plans to reach the 2023 World Cup.
“It will be this team’s greatest achievement if we qualify for the World Cup through the top seven,” he said.
Middle-order batsman Harry Tector and all-rounder Curtis Campher are set to make their debuts as Ireland continue their rebuilding process. “We’re going to be the first Irish international team to play since lockdown so it’s exciting,” Balbirnie said.
Hitting out: Jonny Bairstow (above) at the Ageas Bowl yesterday