Eoin Morgan will lead England into their World Cup clash with Sri Lanka with a clear message to his players that they can not afford any more slip-ups.
England have largely blundered their way through the first half of the group stage and, such is the format of the tournament, defeat in Wellington tonight would not be a terminal blow.
With only Bangladesh and Afghanistan to follow in the group stage, tonight’s game is England’s last chance to prove they can match it with the heavy hitters before any potential quarter-final. “It is quite a big game for us in particular,” Morgan said. “We see these last three group games as must-win games. We’re going to have to be good. Our performance is going to have to be better than we’ve produced at this World Cup so far.”
The Wellington Regional Stadium might not loom as the perfect venue for England to return to after suffering one of their worst-ever World Cup defeats there just a week ago. Morgan’s men were pulverised by New Zealand, which led critics of coach Peter Moores to find some voice over the past week.
Former England captains Paul Collingwood and Michael Vaughan have both suggested Moores’ position is under threat, less than a year since he took over the role for a second time.
The 52-year-old was tasked with overhauling England in the wake of last winter’s horror Ashes tour – when the Test and limited-over coaching duties were spread – but his only significant series win since has been over India in last summer’s Tests. England have won nine of their 25 one-day internationals under Moores, but Morgan believes the good work the coach is doing is yet to bear full fruit.
“Mooresy has been awesome since he’s come in,” Morgan said.
“He’s been completely different to anybody I’ve ever worked with before. He’s different to Andy Flower and Ashley Giles.
“He brings a lot of energy to the side, he brings a lot of ideas. The basis around international cricket is trying to be one step ahead of the game, particularly as a coach. You’re trying to find little edges here and there without taking the basics away. I think he’s done that since he’s been involved.”
England must decide whether to make any changes after sticking with the same XI for their opening three group games.
Gary Ballance has not found form since he was slotted in at three for the start of the tournament, while last week batting coach Mark Ramprakash spoke glowingly of the so-far unused Alex Hales’ improvement since arriving Down Under.