Captain Morgan brushes aside concerns over form

Eoin Morgan has brushed aside concerns over his form ahead of England’s World Cup opener against Australia.

The England captain has scored just two runs in his past four innings, including consecutive first-ball ducks against Australia, ahead of Saturday’s clash at the MCG.

“(I’m) not really that concerned,” he said.

“I went through a bit of a bad patch before Christmas and I feel, since I started with the Sydney Thunder at the Big Bash, I’ve started to turn things around.

“I’ve had a couple of low scores but I’ll look to cash in on Saturday if I manage to get past 10-20 balls.”

The left-hander is taking comfort in the fact that it was only at the start of the tour that he defiantly hit a century against Australia at the SCG.

“I think it is four or five games since I scored a hundred so I don’t have to look that far back to actually reconnect with what works well for me,” he said.

“I took a lot from that hundred I scored at Sydney, particularly because it was against Australia, and the first game is a big game against Australia so I’ll take a lot of confidence from that game.”

He added: “I find it really easy to reconnect with the past and what I do well and can be very individually focussed when the chips are down.

“I’ve done that in the past on a number of occasions when I’ve gone through low scores. I know that I have done it and come out the other side.”

If Morgan was looking to move on quickly from the subject, he was given little chance to do so.

The first question from the home media focused on his bizarre dismissal in Wednesday’s four-wicket warm-up defeat to Pakistan in Sydney.

Morgan somehow managed to direct his third delivery, a full toss from leg-spinner Yasir Shah, to slip and he was reluctant to re-live the moment 24 hours on..

“My dismissal was I played a shot that I played, maybe, thousands of times,” he said.

“Usually it results in the ball going over 45 on the leg-side. It didn’t. It caught the top edge and went to slip.”

Asked if that was a concerning to get out given his form, he added: “No”.

Morgan was equally as brief when asked to discuss news from earlier in the day that his opposite number, Michael Clarke, would definitely miss the match as he continues his much-talked about return from hamstring surgery.

“It doesn’t really bother me,” he said.

“Whatever team they put out doesn’t really bother us. It’s really important that we focus on what we do.”

Morgan confirmed that England would not name their team until just before the match, although they are likely to call upon at least six World Cup debutants. With a sell-out 90,000 MCG crowd set to be baying for English blood it promises to be a baptism of fire for England’s young guns.

They do have prior MCG experience, however, with only Moeen Ali and James Taylor having not played a competitive match at the ground, and Morgan believes that not only can his players handle any white-hot atmosphere, but that they have played in more hostile venues.

“It is certainly going to be a challenge,” he said.

“In regard to the ground it is quite a big stadium.

The majority of our guys have played here before - there’s only two that haven’t - and the guys that have played here before say that although it is a fantastic venue to play when you are in the middle you are so far away from the crowd.

“It’s a big AFL oval, so in regards to places where we’ve played before where it is quite intimidating, it’s not on top of you.”

Morgan then sought to pour the pressure on Australia - and co-hosts New Zealand who England meet in their second group game - by suggesting such a large home following could actually be detrimental.

“They’ve had a good run of it, as have New Zealand for a while, which probably makes Australia favourites and New Zealand second favourites and with that brings a lot of pressure,” he said.

“I know sometimes it is a nice pressure to have, in front of your own fans, there will be 90,000 fans cheering them on - but if it goes against them it will be interesting to see how they react.”

Regardless of the crowd England will need to arrest a poor recent one-day record against Australia in their own backyard - they have lost 13 of their past 15 games - if they are to begin the tournament with a win.

More recently they lost all three games in the tri-series, including a 112-run defeat in the final, but Morgan remains confident his team can pull off an opening-night shock.

“If we can produce what I believe is our best cricket on Saturday we’ll be able to beat Australia,” he said.