EOIN Morgan hopes his England team can take the next step in their development in the Royal London one-day series against world champions Australia.
England’s young team are at the Ageas Bowl today, looking to build on their series victory over World Cup runners-up New Zealand earlier this year. Now they face the team who beat the Black Caps in March’s World Cup final in a five-match series.
Morgan said: “It’s a great opportunity to see our younger guys get tested again against one of the best sides in the world.
“We’re at a completely different phase in our development with our team and our squad compared to Australia so it’s certainly going to be a good test.”
Morgan took over the captaincy before the World Cup, which ended in humiliation as England were dumped out in the group stage. But a new-look team was picked for the series with New Zealand and they responded with a 3-2 series victory.
Morgan added: “The performances from the team are getting better with each game and my development as a captain is coming along.
“I’m learning along the way and my thoughts and ideas are being implemented.”
Australia won the World Cup little more than five months ago, but must now restate their credentials in much-changed circumstances in the Royal London Series.
Steve Smith takes charge of his first series as one-day international captain, having also succeeded Michael Clarke in Test matches following Australia’s Ashes defeat this summer.
Alongside him, he will have only four team-mates who got the better of the Kiwis in Melbourne on 29 March.
It is the progress England appear to have made, however, which is perhaps his biggest concern.
“They’ve got a couple of new players in, and the way they played against New Zealand was really good,” said Smith.
“Moeen Ali said the other day they’re trying to play quite similarly to the way we play, so we know what they’re going to do. We just need to be ‘on’ from ball one and make sure we can counter-attack what they come at us with.”
Smith is mindful of the break Australia have had in their ODI schedule, but discounts any negative impact from losing the Ashes.
“We haven’t played a lot of one-day cricket obviously since the World Cup, where we were very successful. So it’s about us getting out there and making sure we’re doing the basics well again.
It’s a completely different format [to the Ashes]. Our boys are ready for the challenge.”
The five-match series, starting with today’s day-night fixture at the Ageas Bowl, will be an early indicator of the importance or otherwise of new playing regulations.
Smith, like his opposite number Morgan, does not expect an extra outfielder in the last 10 overs to restrict ever- increasing totals significantly.
He said: “I think they might come down a little bit. But I think you see these days, in T20 cricket for instance, guys can go over 10 an over for the last 10 overs.
“If you’ve got wickets in the shed anything is possible. That’s our plan anyway, to make sure we’ve got wickets in the shed so we can go quite hard at the back end.
“The guys are so strong these days they can clear the rope with five out.”
• Dylan Budge last night played himself into contention for a senior Scotland debut when he stroked a superb century against Lancashire’s second string.
The Durham youngster led the Scottish fightback with a brilliant 105 on day two of the three-day clash at Blackpool.
His team were in deep trouble on 9-2 when Budge walked to the middle to launch the recovery by taking the attack to the home bowlers.
Budge raced to his half-century at almost a run a ball and went on to reach his first representative three-figure score, hitting 13 boundaries and facing just 95 deliveries.
The 19-year-old had earlier demonstrated his all-round skills with 3-17 as Lancashire declared their first innings on 376-9. Scotland, for whom Richie Berrington complemented Budge with a hard-hitting 93, then declared 97 runs behind before the county reached 151-3 at the close for a lead of 248.
Budge could now earn promotion for next week’s I-Cup clash with the Netherlands.