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England captain hopes for turning tracks in Australia ODIs

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MANCHESTER: Eoin Morgan is hoping for spinning pitches during England’s One-day International series against Australia as the world champions plan for the 2023 World Cup in India.

The England captain is anticipating a gentle turner at Old Trafford in Manchester, where the fierce rivals will play 50-over fixtures over the next week with the first match on Friday, with weather conditions conducive to slow bowlers.

England’s rise to top spot in the ODI rankings was built around posting big totals on good batting tracks and their tournament triumph last summer was driven by their pace attack.

But with the next World Cup due to be held in India in three years’ time, as well as a Twenty20 World Cup there next year, Morgan is embracing the need for change.

“It’s a huge benefit to us playing at Old Trafford, particularly if we play on the wicket I think we’re going to play on which will hopefully be slow and take a lot of turn,” he told reporters on Thursday. “That’s the sort of wicket we will be more than likely to play on in India in the World Cup of 2023 and to play on that for a period of time will expose us in different areas we need to get better at.

“Over the course of the last four-and-a half years we have had to wait to play at Cardiff or Old Trafford or go away on tour to experience those conditions. So hopefully a little more of that will help us get better at what we need to do on those sorts of pitches.”

Joe Root, in the meantime, will return to the England ODI team with a ringing endorsement from his skipper Eoin Morgan.

Test captain Root was left out of the T20 series, but will be back in his familiar number three slot.

“Joe is one of the best players in the world and been in great form at Yorkshire so hopefully he can take that form into this series,” Morgan said. “Throughout the World Cup he showed how valuable a player he is to us. He is under-sold a lot of the time in white ball cricket, extremely versatile in what he does. His dot ball percentage is unbelievably low, his average is high, his strike rate high. From a number three that’s all you can ask.”

Aaron Finch, meanwhile, said Australia were still searching for their ‘best formula’ in ODI as the two teams lock horns following the Twenty20 series in Southampton, which England won 2-1.

The clash will be the first 50-over contest between the sides since England won last year’s World Cup semi-final on their way to lifting the trophy.

Finch, Australia’s white-ball captain, said his team had made progress in ODI cricket in recent years but there was still room for improvement.

“Over the last couple of years we’re still searching for our best formula and our best 11 players day in, day out in the one-day format,” he said. “I don’t think there’s been any secret to that. There’s been great opportunity that we probably haven’t nailed in this format. We’ve played some really good cricket in patches and some indifferent cricket in other patches.”

Australia are fifth in the global ODI rankings but are the number one side in T20 cricket.

The skippers aid that it was important that Australia got their ‘processes really rolling in one-day cricket’ as they look ahead to the 2023 World Cup.

“I think it’s just finding a consistent selection formula,” he said. “We did a lot of work in the Covid break on how we think we can structure our one-day cricket and where we think we need to get to for that 2023 World Cup. It’s about getting as much information all the time to give us the best chance of winning consistently. One-day cricket is a hard game, especially away from home.”

But he warned England had enviable firepower with bat and ball.

“They keep coming at you,” he said. “There’s no part in a 20-over game or a 50-over game that you can take your foot off the gas because there will be someone there to take the opportunity away from you.

“I think their form in white-ball cricket has been exceptional in both formats over the last few years,” he added. “Obviously their one-day game has probably been the benchmark since probably 2016 so it’s going to be a great challenge.”

England are likely to walk out on Friday with nine of the 11 players who started that extraordinary World Cup final against New Zealand at Lord´s in July last year. Just Liam Plunkett and Ben Stokes are missing, and Stokes is absent only because he is back in his native New Zealand for family reasons.

Australia are certain to include all-rounder Mitch Marsh after his match-winning turn in the final T20 of the series on Tuesday. Marsh has been in and out of the side for the past decade, making 57 ODI appearances since his debut at 19 in 2011 and always seeming to be the fall guy when the team is switched around.

“He has got a good opportunity over the next couple of years to cement that spot,” Finch said in a vote of confidence in Marsh.

Finch added that wicket-keeper Alex Carey will retain the gloves ahead of Matthew Wade.

England has played just two ODI series since winning the World Cup for the first time, drawing with South Africa at the turn of the year and beating Ireland this summer.

Indeed, the English are looking to complete an unbeaten set of series across all formats this summer, having also beaten the West Indies and Pakistan in Tests and drawn with Pakistan in T20s.

The remaining one-dayers will be played on Sunday and Wednesday.

Teams (from):

ENGLAND: Eoin Morgan (captain), Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Tom Banton, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Jofra Archer, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Mark Wood, Adil Rashid.

AUSTRALIA: Aaron Finch (captain), David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Ashton Agar, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa.

Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2020

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