Early days to talk about batting line up for World T20: Rohit Sharma
21 Mar 2021
England lost the T20I series 2-3 to India after dominating the proceedings of the five-match series till the third game.
The tourists had the series in their grapes at 2-1 at the end of the third game, but their challenges got tougher with every game from thereon as Indian dig deep to bring their best with both the bat and ball in their hands.
However, for skipper Morgan, who had compared the decider of the series to something as big as a world cup final, the lessons were many for the team to take with them, along with few boxes that were ticked.
England were in the game chasing a mammoth score in the series decider before the middle order crumbled just at the wrong time to hand India the advantage. England failed to chase in two consecutive matches, as wickets falling in clusters and subsequently stalled momentum proved to be detrimental for them.
At the same time, brave moves such as bowling Rashid Khan in the powerplays and playing Mark Wood as an out and out pacer really paid dividends for the hosts.
Neither aspect of their strategy against India in the T20I series was lost on Morgan.
"I think some big lessons, huge amount positives, certainly in the four out of the five matches, we have produced some of the best powerplay bowling that we have in the last couple of years. Learnings from the backend of the games that we have lost and our middle order was not as sharp as we normally are. One of our strengths is how quickly guys get in and adapt to surfaces (but that) did not necessarily happen," Morgan said in the post-match conference.
Morgan had relished the prospects of pitches that were to turn across the five-match series following Test series dominated by spinners. He had pointed out that playing a long series on turning pitches will help the England players assess where they stand currently and where they want eventually to be at come the T20 World Cup. However, the pitches produced in the series were flat and spinners could not extract much spin and bounce off it
"Coming here and wanted to be challenged for us means playing on turning pitches that are completely alien to us because we do not have the opportunity to play on them pretty often. So, that was the challenge I was hinting at before the series. The ball has barely turned. Given the pitches that we have played on, probably bar two, they have been really good to play on," Morgan added.
Now, having seen his teammates floundering with their game plans at wrong times in the series and not too many games in the same conditions as of the World T20, Morgan is putting all his weight behind the Indian Premier League to help England players getting more and more accustomed to the playing conditions in India.
He suggested his players to make the most of the opportunity they will be presented in the upcoming edition of the league to take their game forward using all their learnings earned from the series against India.
His emphasis on IPL and pointing out lack of matches in these conditions may well mean that players excelling in spinning conditions during the IPL will be considered when England will be mulling their squad for the World T20.
"Taking advantage of the upcoming IPL is going to be huge. As a team and as individuals, we don't want to stand still, we want to continue to move forward. Any opportunity guys get at the IPL, you want to try and make the most of it, because we're going to be playing at home for our summer and then we go to Bangladesh and Pakistan but there is limited opportunity to get our best XI in those games. The experience over the next couple of months is the most valuable,” Morgan added.
His comments about IPL being such a big opportunity can also be underlined as he openly defied the talks around some England players nailing down their place in the team. He said that the game is progressing at a rapid rate and that players too will have to evolve with each passing game to remain in contention going ahead towards the World T20.
“If any player, including myself, looks that far ahead and thinks 'my position is nailed down' then they're mistaken because we want to improve and continue to get better as the rest of the world progresses. T20 as a game progresses faster than any other format. So, we need to be quite flexible on how we want to improve, and we cannot be rigid," he said.
Morgan got a full-strength T20 squad with all regular members such as Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow and Mark Wood being available for the complete white-ball leg of the tour of India. Add to that Jofra Archer’s presence in the T20 team despite the concerns around his elbow injury.
English commentariat had lashed out at the ECB for prioritising ODIs and T20Is over Test matches against India and had gone on to say that Morgan is the real big boss in England cricket and hence he gets all the players he wishes to choose from, while Root has to manage the team around ‘rest and rotation.’
However, Morgan said that he is realistic about players who represent England in all formats of the game will be missing some part of their next few T20 series as England are trying their best to be flexible amid the uncertain time of Covid-19.
“I would imagine all of the multi-format guys. It's just too much to ask, given the winter guys have had as well, around being in a bubble. A lot of it will be dependent on how flexible it is to come in and out of the biosecure environment that we'll have during our summer and whether they can see their families or not,” Morgan said.
But, he also suggested that the absence of the likes of Buttler, and Stokes will open windows of opportunity for the promising bench strengths of England cricket. He commended Tom Banton, Sam Billings, Moeen Ali and Phil Salt for putting their hands up when the team required in the last summer and said that the expectation will be nothing different the next summer when the senior players will be away from the game.
"We looked at it last summer with guys like Tom Banton, Sam Billings, and Moeen Ali taken on a great responsibility when he's had the opportunity. We've had Phil Salt in, we've had a number of players that have come in and definitely impressed. The talent is there and there will be more opportunity throughout our summer to see players that have real international ability to stake their claim,” Morgan concluded.
After a four-match Test and a five-match T20I series, England are left to play only a three-match ODI series starting March 23 in Pune.