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Confident Morgan encouraging England squad to relish World Cup thrills

The co-hosts kick off their campaign against South Africa on Thursday.

Eoin Morgan’s England get their World Cup campaign under way on Thursday (Nigel French/PA)
Eoin Morgan’s England get their World Cup campaign under way on Thursday (Nigel French/PA)

Eoin Morgan is confident England are ready to raise the curtain on the cricket World Cup after positive news on and off the pitch.

Morgan was a bystander as the tournament hosts cantered to victory in their final warm-up outing at the Oval on Monday, bowling Afghanistan out for 160 then knocking off the runs in less than 18 overs.

The Dubliner was officially part of the winning team after recovering from a dislocated finger but he opted against fielding and was not required with the bat as Jason Roy’s bruising 89 not out saw the side home for the loss of one wicket.

Factor in an all-clear for paceman Mark Wood, who has been passed fit following a scare over his troublesome left ankle, and preparations are looking bright.

Morgan revealed he intended to play “a lot of golf” on his day off and cut a satisfied figure as he assessed the situation.

“We have felt ready the last week or so, even if we didn’t play these warm-up games,” he said.

“As a whole I was very happy with the preparation. When you play as convincingly as that it builds confidence in the hard work you’ve done both in training and in the game and the other side of it is that it gives us the afternoon and evening to switch off – not playing another close game against a strong side.

Eoin Morgan opted not to field and was not needed with the bat against Afghanistan (Mark Kerton/PA)

“Everyone is going to feel that anticipation and excitement of playing the first game and it will be different than any other day and I will be encouraging guys to embrace it.”

As for the good news on both his and Wood’s fitness, Morgan added: “It’s the best possible news with both of them. With Woody being a fast bowler it’s inevitable we would have injuries but to come back with the scan as clear as it could be is great, so we are all ready.”

Worries over Wood’s condition when he pulled up in Southampton were inevitable given his career-long fitness issues but the Durham man insisted he was calm.

“I wasn’t worried about the scan because I knew it was precautionary,” he said.

“I probably could have carried on bowling but I didn’t want to take any risks with it when I knew what was round the corner, especially with my background.

“I had a light bowl this morning and felt fine, then I had a bit of a heavier bowl whilst the lads were playing football and that felt absolutely fine. If anything, I just need to get it on the ice machine 24/7 for the next couple of days.

“I will fully join in with practice on Wednesday and then be ready to go on Thursday if selected.”

England have three options to take the new balls against South Africa, with Chris Woakes, Jofra Archer and Wood all preferring to bowl at the start of the innings.

The trio have rotated over the past couple of weeks but only two will get the gig in the opening game.

“I am happy to bowl in a different way or in a different spot but I imagine if selected I will play the same role as always,” he added.

“It is a long tournament with a lot of games so I expect we will mix and match.”



From Belfast Telegraph