Bell set to open for England

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Published: Sunday 11th January 2015 by The News Editor

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Ian Bell will be given the chance to book his place as England’s World Cup opener after being confirmed as Moeen Ali’s partner for Monday’s Tri-Series warm-up match in Australia.

The decision to axe former captain Alastair Cook before Christmas created a vacancy at the head of the innings, with Bell and Alex Hales vying for the role.

Those who want England to pursue a more explosive style of one-day cricket have lobbied for Twenty20 specialist Hales to be given his head but when the side line-up against an ACT XI in Canberra, it is the experienced Bell who will face the new ball.

Speaking for the first time since replacing Cook as England skipper, Eoin Morgan was quick to remove any doubt over the make up of his top order.

“The top three will be Ali, Bell and (James) Taylor. The first opportunity goes to those guys,” he said.

“Belly is a class act, somebody we’ve looked to for a long time to score a heavy weight of runs. He’s pretty key at the top of the order.

“All three lads look in great form. Opportunity lands with them and we’ll see how they go.

“I think the guts of the side are pretty strong but there are a couple of areas that do need addressing so opportunities will be there for guys to prove themselves.”

With little more than a month and a maximum of five one-day internationals between now and England’s World Cup opener against Australia, hopes will be high that Bell, Moeen and Taylor all find form quickly.

Monday’s match at the Manuka Oval allows each side to use all 15 squad members, a possibility the tourists will likely take advantage of, but the time for mass tinkering is largely gone.

Morgan has been hailed as the progressive thinker England need to expand their 50-over game, and his profile as a cricketer is almost the direct opposite to his predecessor.

While Cook has made his name in the Test arena, Morgan is a T20 franchise player with experience of the Indian Premier League and Big Bash.

But he has warned not expect an overnight revolution of the side under his stewardship.

“I don’t think it will differ in a huge amount,” he said.

“Over the last seven or eight months I think we’ve seen a considerable change in the method that we’ve used both batting and bowling.

“That will continue to go in the same direction and guys will be encouraged to play with freedom.

“There will be certain things Alastair would do that I wouldn’t just because it is his character and mine. When I’ve captained in the past I’ve tended to strip things back to the basics.

“That’s my method.”

Morgan also revealed Cook, who has handled his demotion with typical grace and stoicism, was quick to offer his support.

“Cookie was the first person to message me once I got the news, which sums up the guy,” said the Dubliner.

“I’ve had a great relationship with Alastair over the last number of years when he’s been captain.

“He’s been fantastic to me. It is unfortunate the way it ended but it is the decision that’s been made.

“It took a bit of time to settle in but it’s a huge honour to captain your country running into a World Cup.

“It’s a massive opportunity and it’s great to finally get started.”

Published: Sunday 11th January 2015 by The News Editor

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