England denied historic whitewash but Morgan optimistic

England captain Eoin Morgan lifts the Royal London one day series trophy.

England captain Eoin Morgan lifts the Royal London one day series trophy.

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Eoin Morgan refuses to let England’s near miss in Cardiff take the gloss off their “outstanding” summer in one-day international cricket.

England’s four-wicket defeat to Pakistan, who chased 302-9 with 10 balls to spare on the back of a record fourth-wicket stand of 163 between Sarfraz Ahmed and Shoaib Malik, means the quest for a first 5-0 home whitewash must go on.

Morgan’s team will also not become the first to go through an English summer unbeaten in white-ball cricket. The Irishman did not deny his natural disappointment after England fell short in their bid for a piece of history, but was looking optimistically at the bigger picture – which includes a Champions Trophy next season and then a World Cup in 2019, both on home soil.

“We’ve been outstanding,” he said of England’s series wins over Sri Lanka and Pakistan this summer. “One of the things we identified before the Pakistan tour was we want to strive to be as consistent as we can.

“We don’t want to be the best one day and the worst another.

“Every game throughout the series, we’ve come out with a hunger and determination to perform at our best.”

England had a shot at 5-0 after a hard-fought four-wicket win at Headingley four days ago.

But even after Jason Roy (87) and Ben Stokes (75) had put them in a promising position here, they faltered marginally despite topping 300 – and then Sarfraz (90) and Shoaib (77) underpinned Pakistan’s successful chase.

Morgan added: “Even after winning the series 3-0 and being pushed back chasing 250, I thought we showed a huge amount of character at Leeds.

“We have shown a lot of strength throughout this series, and more to build on.”

It was only in this final match that they paid for failing to make quite as many runs as they might.

“We lost a lot of momentum by losing wickets in the fashion we did,” said the captain, who promises nonetheless his side will not be tempering their aggressive intent any time soon.

“We don’t really worry about the consequences; we just want to be better at executing the shots we want to play, so we can post 350.

“The fact we fell short and only got 300 isn’t a bad thing.

“I thought Jason Roy played well, and Ben Stokes backed up his innings from Leeds again.

“We’re disappointed to lose, but I don’t think it was that bad a performance.”

England have raised the bar dramatically since their woeful early exit from last year’s World Cup – and Morgan is happy to deal with increased expectations.

“I think it’s exciting,” he said.

“When we first started as a group, (we were) getting everybody to understand the direction we were trying to go in and the fact it might fall short at some stages – (but) it hasn’t really ever fallen short.

“The attitude and hunger to want to be better playing in that manner, I think, sums up the direction one-day international cricket is going and the talent we have. We have so much in whatever XI we pick.”

After being forced to settle for a mere 4-1 series victory, Morgan will simply return with a point to prove next time.

“As cricketers, you’re never fully satisfied,” he said.

“As a batter, you’re always disappointed because you’re very rarely not out – and as a bowler, you very rarely take a wicket with the last ball of your spell.

“You always feel you could have done better.”

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