EOIN Morgan insists that, far from shrinking from it, England will go into this summer’s World Cup embracing their favourites tag.
Unbeaten in their last ten bilateral ODI series, the No.1 ranked side in the world are on home soil this summer and desperate to end their long wait for a first-ever World Cup crown.
It is all a far cry from four years ago, when Alastair Cook was dropped on the eve of the tournament and Morgan presided over a side that limped out in the group stages.
But the last four years under Trevor Bayliss’ watch have seen an amazing about-turn in white-ball fortunes and Morgan has been a key figure.
And the 32-year-old skipper is confident his side can finish the job this summer, despite having the hopes of dreams of a nation on their shoulders.
Morgan said: “You can’t ignore it but we’ve prepared for going into the World Cup as favourites. It’s something which sits absolutely fine with us.
“The reason it is there is because of the success we’ve had in the past but that’s all in the past now and our focus needs to be on what’s to come and the things we need to do.”
And with the tournament now just two months away – England kick off against South Africa on May 30 at the Oval – Morgan cannot wait to get cracking. If you plan on betting on the Cricket World Cup, check out the codes available at https://onlinebettingcodes.co.uk/
“There are no nerves, I think it’s more excitement,” he added.
“There’s a huge opportunity for us to go and continue playing the cricket we have done over the last three and a half years off the back of a challenging tour to the West Indies where we were tested in every department.
“I think, sitting here right now, we’re equipped really well. We still have one game in Dublin against Ireland and our games at home against Pakistan in the build-up to the World Cup so there’s plenty of cricket to be played but all the focus is going to be on the competition.”
The emergence of the likes of Chris Woakes and Adil Rashid as ODI stars with ball in hand has been vital to England’s rise.
But really, the backbone of their success has been the batting.
Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Jos Buttler – England have a top order that is the envy of world cricket.
And not forgetting Morgan who passed 50 three times in four knocks during their recent drawn ODI series with the West Indies.
England have passed 400 now four times in the past four years, a fine feat considering it has only happened 20 times in international cricket.
“I think as a batting unit, everybody is important and everyone brings something different to the table,” he added.
“Every one of our batters works together as a unit to achieve a score or chase down a target which is the main aim but everybody is doing it in their own way and feeling comfortable within that is key.
“All the talk about our batting line-up is justified. We’ve scored 400 a handful of times which is a bit unheard of, certainly in an England shirt and we’ve managed to chase down totals too.
“Our batting unit is very strong and one of the huge benefits is we bat all the way down to 11.”
In England’s last ODI series – a 2-2 draw against West Indies in March – their power out in the middle was on display as they cruised to a six-wicket win chasing 361 in the first game.
There was also, however, a less convincing performance in the fifth and final ODI, where England slumped to 113 all out having been 57-2 and West Indies eased to a seven-wicket win.
But Morgan – who also admitted Jofra Archer has earned the right to test his claims for a squad berth in the upcoming warm-up clashes against Pakistan – is keen to stress the positives from that testing tour.
“Our batters did extremely well in West Indies with a couple of outstanding performances from Jos Buttler in particular, Joe Root and Jason Roy,” he added.
“I thought with the bat those guys were absolutely tremendous and I think it’s prepared us really well for the World Cup.
“It was challenging playing in completely different conditions on smaller grounds and on flatter wickets and it was also a huge task for our bowlers.
“I thought our bowling unit really did get us over the line when it came to crunch time.
“There were outstanding performances from Adil Rashid particularly in the high-scoring game in Grenada when he took a four-wicket maiden to win us the game.
“Match-winning performances like that will hold us in good stead down the line.”
ICC Cricket World Cup Trophy Tour, driven by Nissan, commences 100-day tour of England and Wales and will be at over 100 locations and events before arriving back in London ready for the opening match on May 30.
BRADLEY WEST / Photo: Getty Images