Eoin Morgan backs England rookies for T20 action against New Zealand
Three months on from the heart-stopping Super Over finish to the World Cup at Lord’s, amid the more sedate surroundings of the picturesque Hagley Oval, England and New Zealand will be reunited for the start of a five-match Twenty20 series.
Friday’s opener in Christchurch could scarcely be further from that famous day by way of distance, magnitude or personnel. Kane Williamson, so gracious after his Black Caps side were denied by the barest of margins, is lying low until the Tests due to a longstanding hip issue, while the tourists have rested a raft of senior players.
Darren Gough ‘honoured’ to work with England in run-up to New Zealand series
Though symptomatic of the modern schedule, it means plenty of fresh English faces to take in. As well as being a first assignment for Chris Silverwood as head coach, the match features five uncapped rookies – Tom Banton, Saqib Mahmood, Lewis Gregory, Pat Brown and Matt Parkinson – and a host of past fringe players – Dawid Malan, Sam Billings, James Vince, Joe Denly and the Curran brothers – all out to impress.
Eoin Morgan, the white-ball captain, insisted his first team will be tough to crack once the likes of Jason Roy, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Moeen Ali return (Joe Root feels less of a certainty). But with T20 World Cups in Australia and India in the next two years, there is a desire to widen the pool of players.
“First and foremost we want to try and win the series,” said Morgan. “We’ll pick teams that we feel are good enough to win the games but also we need to look at these [uncapped] guys – there’s no use not picking them in the XI. The majority of the guys will definitely get games and exposure to find more out about them.”
Morgan himself needed the summer of all summers to end before he could fully process what had transpired and assess his occasionally angry lower back before deciding to continue as captain. The result is another 12 months at the very least, even if the 33-year-old is telling himself to look further.
He said: “We have a special group of players at the moment. I feel very lucky to lead and I think we can do something even more special down the line. I won’t say I’ll be finished after the next T20 World Cup as I’d be afraid I’ll only creep over the line and maybe tail off. I don’t want to let anyone down. I want to drive through to Australia and then make a call after that.”Quick guide
New Zealand v England, first Twenty20: possible teamsShow Hide
New Zealand Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Tim Seifert (wk), Ross Taylor, Daryl Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee (capt), Lockie Ferguson
England Jonny Bairstow, Dawid Malan, James Vince, Eoin Morgan (capt), Joe Denly, Sam Billings (wk), Lewis Gregory, Tom Curran, Adil Rashid, Chris Jordan, Saqib Mahmood
1 Nov First Twenty20, Christchurch
3 Nov Second Twenty20, Wellington
5 Nov Third Twenty20, Nelson
8 Nov Fourth Twenty20, Napier
10 Nov Fifth Twenty20, Auckland
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Such clarity of thought is typical of Morgan, so too the appraisal of his new partnership with Silverwood. Root’s Test team may require some fresh leadership from the head coach but for limited-overs cricket it is very much a case of putting the support into the term “support staff”.
Morgan said: “It’s been seamless. We have a lot of leaders in the group and they drive the intensity of practice. They are very demanding in terms of what they want from the coaches. So facilitating that and coming back with stuff that’s challenging is important. Silvers is the man to do that.”The Spin: sign up and get our weekly cricket email.
England go into the opener after a win and a defeat in the warm-ups, with Morgan describing the latter, inflicted by a century from Colin Munro, as the more instructive for the newcomers. Jonny Bairstow – one of only three English survivors from the World Cup final along with Morgan and Adil Rashid, and fresh from an unbeaten 78 in the first outing – is clearly one to watch too after being left out of the Tests that follow.
Should there be a tie over the course of the next five matches, a Super Over will follow. But unlike on 14 July, these will keep being played until an outright winner emerges, rather than reverting to boundaries struck. How New Zealand, currently cracking wry jokes about a run of English sporting success after last Saturday’s rugby semi-final defeat for the All Blacks, must wish this change had come earlier.