Eoin Morgan hoping to use experience to guide England into T20 semi-final
EOIN Morgan’s senior statesman role for England has perhaps been forced on him but is one he is relishing as crunch time approaches in the ICC World Twenty20.
England retain realistic prospects of defending their title only thanks to Saturday’s much-needed win over New Zealand, and know that today’s final Super Eight match against Sri Lanka at Pallekele could yet finish their tournament early.
It was Sri Lanka who ended England’s interest in last year’s World Cup, with a ten-wicket quarter-final trouncing in Colombo and they could repeat an unpalatable double in this competition.
England’s chances are enhanced, however, by the presence of Morgan – back to form after a lacklustre year in his favoured limited-overs format.
He restored England’s belief, although not in victory, with his unbeaten 71 from only 36 balls against West Indies last week; then, as Luke Wright hit the most telling blows against the Kiwis, the Irishman also helped to shepherd a successful chase.
At 26, Morgan is one year Wright’s junior – and has also played seven fewer Twenty20 internationals. Both have been notable performers in Twenty20 leagues around the world, making their presence so key in an England top six otherwise full of youthful potential but not relevant experience.
Morgan’s billing as the wise head, as well as pivotal force, in England’s middle order is one consequence of Kevin Pietersen’s controversial absence.
“I think the role that I play within the side has changed over the last six to 12 months,” he said. “The responsibility on my shoulders is one that I enjoy. I relish batting in the middle order and towards the end of the innings, and nurturing guys along and getting us over the line.
England promoted Jonny Bairstow, to no avail, ahead of Morgan against the West Indies and captain Stuart Broad, and the man himself, have since pointed out his suitability to batting after the six-over powerplay once the ring field retreats.
“My skills as a middle-order batter – and the stats back it up – the success I’ve had all guide towards batting from six to 20 overs,” said Morgan. “When I get in early in those six overs, I don’t seem to do well.
However England deploy Morgan, they will go into today’s must-win match with confidence renewed after their comfortable win over the Kiwis. Morgan was especially impressed with No 3 Wright, who has been a revelation since returning to the team just this month. “The way Luke played last night was fantastic,” he said. “He struck the ball really, really well - as well as anyone in the tournament so far.”
England know nonetheless they face no easy task against opponents with honed skills in their own climate.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to test ourselves in very tough conditions,” added Morgan, who is convinced England can beat anyone on their day.
Asked that very question, he said: “Yes, absolutely. We have a huge amount of match-winners.
Captain Mahela Jayawardene led Sri Lanka to their second successive win on Saturday, over the West indies, and knows his team will lap up the attention from their vocal following.
“We have enjoyed the crowds,” he said. “The way they go with the music, it’s part and parcel of our cricket.
“We grew up with our school cricket with those kind of bands playing in our big matches, so everybody enjoys that kind of atmosphere.”
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Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 10 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North east