Morgan tight-lipped about line-up


Published: Saturday 7th March 2015 by The News Editor

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England will think long and hard before making any changes for their must-win World Cup clash against Bangladesh in Adelaide.

The grim prospect of an early exit hangs over Eoin Morgan’s side and a week-long build-up to Monday’s match has served to intensify speculation that alterations must be made after England have kept faith with the same team throughout the tournament.

Most significantly there has been a clamour for Alex Hales’ hard-hitting talents to be unleashed in place of the out-of-form Gary Ballance, who has scored 36 runs in four innings.

Hales is horribly short of match practice, however, and his only innings in almost two months on tour came in a warm-up match against Pakistan on February 11 when he hit 31 from 47 balls.

England will also weigh up whether to tinker with a bowling line-up that was ineffective last time out when Sri Lanka lost just one wicket as they coasted to a record chase of 309 for six in Wellington.

Front-line duo James Anderson and Stuart Broad have most significantly failed to fire – they have just four wickets between them – and all four of England’s seamers have leaked runs at more than six an over.

“It is a big decision to change anyone in the side and it won’t be taken lightly and it won’t be made quickly,” said Morgan, who gave little away about the possibility of Hales’ inclusion.

“People can be twice the player when they are not playing, particularly when someone is not doing well.

“Halesy is working tremendously hard and if given the chance I’m sure he will take it.

“I think Gary has been a bit unlucky in the way he has got out. Go back to the first game against Australia where he chipped on to mid-wicket, the other day an inside edge went straight back to the bowler.

“He is very disappointed with where he’s at and we will reassess.”

Morgan gave away few other clues regarding team selection other than to admit he can ill afford to confuse loyalty with stubbornness when he sits down with coach Peter Moores to finalise the team.

“There is that danger,” he said.

“A World Cup is about creating that loyalty and that confidence in the side that you’ve selected but also reacting to what’s in front of you.

“We have two games potentially before a quarter-final and we have to be leading towards the best team that we believe can get to the final and win.

“It is not an easy decision.”

England are unlikely to dispense with the experience of Anderson and Broad in such an important game – although Chris Woakes might be trusted with the new ball again – and Morgan admits he is at a loss to explain his front-liners’ lack of form.

“It is a difficult one really,” he said.

“They are exceptional bowlers and in tandem we have not been consistent enough to put the ball in the right areas. The guys are trying really hard to do it but we haven’t managed to take wickets early enough.

“They’re not at their very best at the moment.”

During the extended lead-up to the match there have been plenty of suggestions as to why England have under-performed at the World Cup, from claims they are too nice to an over-obsession with statistics. Morgan dismissed suggestions his team needed to manufacture a harder edge.

“I think that’s a bad way of going about things,” he said.

“If we went down that route it would mean we’re not getting the best out of ourselves and we’re trying to be somebody who we’re not. We need to be ourselves.

“It’s about winning games of cricket whether we’re nice or nasty doesn’t really matter.”

The 28-year-old did concede that muddled thoughts may have contributed to some of his side’s problems, as well as his own lack of runs, and hopes three days off at the start of the week will have helped to clear minds ahead of such an important game.

“I’ve been guilty in the past of looking at everything else but my own performance as to why I’m not performing or why we’re not winning games of cricket,” he said.

“When you perform badly you can come up with a thousand different theories. The best way for us moving forward is to concentrate on what we do.

“Having the break in between has given us a lot of time to reflect.”

Despite their poor World Cup so far England will be favourites to beat Bangladesh, who will qualify for the quarter-finals with victory.

England have lost two of their past three games against the Tigers though and were beaten when they last met at the 2011 World Cup in Chittagong.

“They are certainly a side we don’t take for granted,” Morgan said.

“They’ve come a long way in the last 10 years, but a lot of our focus going forward is going to be about us.

“If we play well I’ve every confidence that we’ll win this game.”

Published: Saturday 7th March 2015 by The News Editor

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