England aiming to build confidence

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Published: Sunday 8th February 2015 by The News Editor

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England will aim to finalise their World Cup preparations with back-to-back warm-up wins in Sydney this week.

England are yet to string victories together since arriving in Australia – a frustration noted by skipper Eoin Morgan in his captain’s press conference on Saturday – but they will get the chance when they meet West Indies and Pakistan over the coming days.

The unofficial status of both games means that all 15 players in the World Cup squad can be used and, while some tinkering is likely, batsman James Taylor confirmed building winning form was top of the agenda.

“We’ve got two crucial games, in our eyes we are looking to win them, and put in two good performances,” Taylor said ahead of Monday’s first match against West Indies.

“We are playing two quality teams which is nice in terms of preparation and build up to the World Cup. We are looking to win them and build from the form we had in the tri-series.”

England kept with the same XI for the final four games of the tri-series against Australia and India, with their only change coming after the opening games when James Anderson replaced Chris Jordan.

The three players in the squad who did not play during the tri-series, Alex Hales, James Tredwell and Gary Ballance – who is fit to return after breaking a finger at the start of the tour – are therefore likely to get their chance before thoughts can focus solely on the blockbuster World Cup opener against Australia in Melbourne next Saturday.

It is an occasion Taylor admits has already got him excited, describing the thought of opening a World Cup in Australia in front of a sell-out MCG as a ‘bucket list’ moment.

Certainly it will be a far cry from his humble beginnings with Leicestershire in county cricket.

“We always used to get a few in at Grace Road!” Taylor said.

“The MCG will be a slightly different kettle of fish. I can’t wait come the 14th of February – I’m so excited. Ninety thousand is one of those things you put on the bucket list isn’t it?

“All the boys are excited and just can’t wait to get out there.”

Taylor could be forgiven for pinching himself after only establishing himself in England’s one-day plans during the limited-overs tour of Sri Lanka just before Christmas.

The 25-year-old had played only two ODIs for England before then – both against Ireland – but is now days away from batting at three in one of the biggest matches of his life.

He is confident, however, that neither he, nor his young team-mates, will be daunted by the occasion.

“I know we won’t be intimidated,” he said.

“We haven’t got a lot to lose. Everyone is expecting Australia to come out on top given the last few games. Hopefully, we are building in the right direction and hopefully Australia have peaked.

“The Australians are in unbelievable form at the minute, but what a great boost it would be to bring them down.

“They’ve played a few good games against us now but it will take just one game for us to put everything together and get one over them and hopefully that is going to be on the 14th.”

Taylor knows that the final pieces of fine-tuning are still to be made in Sydney this week before any plot to ruin Australia’s opening-day party can be hatched.

England made important strides forward to reach the tri-series final, but a third successive defeat to Australia in the Perth decider confirmed work is still to be done.

Taylor was at least able to get his first look at Mitchell Johnson at the WACA Ground and, although he fell to the left-arm quick, he thinks he will be better for the experience come the MCG.

“It was fine to be fair. I didn’t face as many balls against him as I would have liked,” he said.

“I enjoy playing the best bowlers in the world and he’s obviously up there at the minute. He’s had a bit of a lay-off. I’m looking forward to playing him at the MCG and hopefully facing a few more balls against him.”

Published: Sunday 8th February 2015 by The News Editor

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