England in good fettle - Morgan
Cricket:England play the first warm-up match of their one-day tour of India tomorrow, hopeful that the most of their preparation for the series has already been done.
Although England only touched down in Delhi on Thursday following a welcome Christmas break at home, most of the squad have spent plenty of time in India already this winter. Seven of England’s 15-man one-day squad played a part in the famous 2-1 Test series win, and six more featured in the drawn Twenty20 series.
Indeed, only Craig Kieswetter and Chris Woakes have yet to play an international in the country in recent weeks, with the former part of an England Performance Programme squad that played in Mumbai and Pune, continuing the ECB’s policy of exposing its players to alien conditions at an early stage.
Morgan, who captained the T20 side in Stuart Broad’s absence, believes that attention to detail will stand the 50-over side in good stead against India A tomorrow and when the five-match series gets under way in Rajkot on January 11th.
“It’s the start of a new year after the successful year we had in 2012. There are a lot of foundations already set so it’s a matter of building on that. The majority of our preparation has already been done pre-Christmas.
“Many of us have been here (with the Test squad) since the 24th or 25th of October and some of the guys who weren’t spent three weeks here before Christmas too. Over the next few days we’ll just be doing top-ups in different areas of our games. We are prepared.
“We’ve seen in past series how important that is — like the (2010/11) Ashes where we were there three or four weeks prior to the first game. It has done us good in the Test and Twenty20 matches and hopefully it will in the one-dayers too.”
While England are looking to get 2013 off to a winning start at the Palam Services Ground, all eyes in Delhi will instead be on the host nation’s ODI match against Pakistan. India have already lost that series after back to back defeats to their fierce rivals, but there is plenty still to play for in the final fixture.
Media pundits, former internationals and fans alike have called for a change when the squad for England is announced and established stars like Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh are all in need of runs.
Spin bowler Ravichandran Ashwin has been another target for criticism, having performed also modestly against England in the Tests, but Morgan is not ready to take the reigning world champions lightly. “I don’t think it is a good time to play India. I don’t think it is ever a good time to play India,” said the Dubliner.
“We know how successful they have been in the past and they are the World Cup champions at the moment. They might be going through a bad patch but they are very, very dangerous cricketers and they have guys who can turn the game on its head in a matter of minutes.”
Tomorrow’s match is due to begin at 9am local time (3.30am GMT) in conditions likely to be colder than an April outing at Chester-le-Street. England’s new limited-overs coach Ashley Giles is in charge of his country for the first time and has a couple of selection issues to ponder.
Somerset’s Jos Buttler and Yorkshire’s Joe Root appear to be battling for one place in the top six, while the variations of Jade Dernbach and the pace of Stuart Meaker offer different options for the final pace bowling spot.
Giles must also decide whether to leave Ian Bell at opener or restore Kevin Pietersen, back in the 50-over set-up after reversing his retirement, alongside Alastair Cook at the head of the innings.