Selection headache pleases Morgan

Limited-overs skipper Eoin Morgan has welcomed a selection headache ahead of England’s one-day international series against South Africa.

Morgan is still unsure of which players form his strongest side after the mauling of South Africa A on Saturday left him with food for thought before the first of five ODIs versus the Proteas tomorrow.

Jonny Bairstow and Chris Jordan did not feature in the series win over Pakistan in United Arab Emirates late last year, but staked a claim for a place in Morgan’s XI courtesy of impressive performances in Kimberley.

With Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes all rested, Bairstow caught the eye by clubbing six maximums in amassing 58 from 30 deliveries while Jordan followed a 14-ball 33 with three wickets and the same amount of catches.

But rather than worrying about which team to pick in Bloemfontein tomorrow, Morgan was pleased to have so many options at his disposal as he builds a side capable of competing at major tournaments.

England limited-overs skipper Eoin Morgan is still uncertain on which players form his strongest side in one-day international cricket

“It is interesting. We could probably pick three different sides,” Morgan, who is waiting on the fitness of Jason Roy, told “The side that we end up going with we still don’t know if it is our best side or not.

“That is really exciting from our point of view because we are not trying to build a best XI, as of this moment in time, we are trying to build a 15 or 17-man squad so by the time an ICC Champions Trophy or a World Cup comes around we have guys in form that we can pick from the squad as opposed to just 11 players.

“Guys have bought into it, which is great, you don’t always get a 15-man squad buying into that way but everyone here has.

“Full credit to those guys who came in. They come in and love playing this style of cricket and they cherish it.

“They fall in behind the Stokes, the Roots and Roys of expressing themselves and enjoying their cricket. The game in Kimberley was a huge eye opener.”

England have shrugged off last-year’s World Cup disappointment over the last eight months, producing a new attacking brand of cricket that has seen them defeat New Zealand and Pakistan either side of running Australia close.

Morgan is hoping England, who smashed the 400-run barrier for the first time in ODIs last summer, can continue that exciting approach against South Africa.

“I think one of the key things for us is trying to get the most out of our ability as a squad and individuals,” the left-handed batsman said.

“We have a huge amount of talent within our squad and we are still trying to explore that.

“That is probably the most exciting thing about our game at the moment. We have come up against some testing challenges in the last eight months since the World Cup and we have put in some fantastic performances.

“In two of the three series we have come back from 2-0 down and come out and played an aggressive brand of cricket, and we will continue to do that here.

“Every player does it in their own individual way, but ultimately it means put the opposition under as much pressure as we can.

England are waiting on the fitness of opening batsman Jason Roy, who has a back problem, ahead of tomorrow's ODI in Bloemfontein

“Whether that is with bat, ball or in the field, there are many ways of doing that and everyone is unique in the way they express it.

“We try and create an environment that encourages guys to do that but going out to do it yourself is the best way to set the tone.”

In an interview with last week,   Jos Buttler spoke about how England would be facing their toughest test so far in the 50-over format when taking on the Proteas.

And that is a view Morgan agrees with.

“The challenge in the UAE against Pakistan, we managed to overcome that and probably saw a lot of our side that we haven’t seen in the past,” he said. “There have been some big challenges that we did overcome.

“This series will pose different challenges but they will be as difficult as the UAE. I’m hoping we come out the other side of it winners.”

One of the reasons behind Morgan and Buttler’s view is the presence of AB de Villiers in South Africa’s squad.

The skipper enhanced his reputation as one of the destructive batsmen in the world last year when smashing the fastest ODI century, off just 31 balls, against West Indies at the Wanderers.

“I’ve played against AB quite a lot, in the IPL and international cricket,” Morgan added. “He is a highly-regarded cricketer and a guy who has changed the current form of the game.

“To have him in the opposition side is brilliant because it means we are playing the best side South Africa can put out.

“It is going to be a great challenge for us in this series and one we are looking forward to.”

Source: ECB

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