ICC Cricket World Cup 2019: England are ready, boasts captain Morgan
As D-Day arrives, England skipper sounds confident despite the burden of expectations on his shoulders
London: Eoin Morgan is confident England are ready to raise the curtain on the cricket World Cup after positive news on and off the pitch.
Morgan was a bystander as the tournament hosts cantered to victory in their final warm-up outing at the Oval on Monday, bowling Afghanistan out for 160 then knocking off the runs in less than 18 overs.
Morgan believes England, who have James Vince and Liam Dawson in the squad, will be strong when they face South Africa on Thursday in the opening game at the Oval.
“We have felt ready the last week or so, even if we didn’t play these warm-up games,” he said.
“As a whole, I was very happy with the preparation. When you play as convincingly as that it builds confidence in the hard work you’ve done both in training and in the game and the other side of it is that it gives us the afternoon and evening to switch off - not playing another close game against a strong side,” Morgan continued.
England have three options to take the new balls against South Africa, with Chris Woakes, Jofra Archer and Mark Wood all preferring to bowl at the start of the innings.
“Everyone is going to feel that anticipation and excitement of playing the first game and it will be different than any other day and I will be encouraging guys to embrace it,” the skipper said during the pre-match conference.
Emphasis on the pitch
The Proteas have suffered plenty of World Cup heartache but having been losing semi-finalists four times there is a sense they are going under the radar this time around.
“We looked at the pitch today and it’s got a tinge of green on it. I suspect over the next two days that might change,” Proteas coach Ottis Gibson told media at the venue on Tuesday.
“At the moment we have three all-rounders in (Chris) Morris, (Andile) Phehlukwayo and (Dwaine) Pretorius ... we’ve also got Shamsi. When we come back tomorrow we’ll have a look at the conditions and make a decision.”
Dale Steyn has been ruled out of the match with injury and the Proteas are unlikely to play two spinners, meaning that one of Morris and Pretorius is likely to partner Phehlukwayo as the second specialist allrounder.
“If the pitch has got a bit of pace and bounce then it’s what we’re accustomed to in South Africa playing at the Wanderers, Pretoria and Cape Town so it shouldn’t be an issue for our batsmen.
“It would be a welcomed thing for our bowlers.”