EOIN MORGAN’S England will finish the Ashes summer in style if they pull off a notable Royal London Series double against a second set of World Cup finalists.
England began to put behind them last winter’s debacle Down Under when a clutch of new players gelled instantly to prevail 3-2 in a thrilling one-day international series against New Zealand in June.
If they can follow subsequent Ashes success with another ODI win across five matches, starting at the Ageas Bowl today, not only will they complete a clean sweep in all three formats against Australia, but will be able to point to summer superiority over both the teams which contested the World Cup final in March.
Morgan, England captain too en route to their early exit from the global tournament, is well aware of the challenge they face against Australia, who beat the Kiwis in Melbourne.
“It’d be great,” he said. “(But) I think it’s going to be very tough.
“Certainly, we’ll need to be close to our best to beat them.
“As when we played against New Zealand, we’ll need to find a way of trying to put them under pressure.”
England did that with the adventure of youth, a new group of attacking players encouraged to ditch the caution and promised a run in the side come what may.
A succession of high-scoring matches resulted, England clinching the verdict on the back of two hundreds from Joe Root and then a man-of-the-match 83 not out from Jonny Bairstow in the decider at Chester-le-Street.
Neither Yorkshireman will be involved this time, Root rested after his Ashes heroics and Bairstow left out of the squad with first-choice wicketkeeper Jos Buttler fit again.
Australia are also much-changed, minus six of those who won the World Cup final, and Steve Smith about to start his first series as official ODI captain.
Morgan added nonetheless: “We’re playing against a good opposition, and it is an opportunity to see our younger guys be tested against one of the best sides in the world.
“It was the same against New Zealand – I don’t see anything different against Australia.
“They’re both very good, and we are in a completely different phase of development with our squad and team at the moment to them.”
Irrespective of the outcome over the next two weeks, Morgan is optimistic for a longer-term future which will hinge on global tournaments in England in 2017 and 2019.
“I certainly think the performances are getting better,” he said. “My performance as captain is coming along.
“I’m having a lot more time to get my thoughts across, and they are being implemented at the moment. I think we’re seeing a bit more of me as a captain, which is great.
“I’m obviously learning along the way.”
Morgan declined to settle one matter which will instead be confirmed only at the toss – the identity of England’s opening partnership.
The options are to stick with Jason Roy alongside Alex Hales or replace him with Moeen Ali, who missed the New Zealand series.
England have made their decision, but not publicly.
“I do know who is going to open,” said Morgan, who went on to praise the developing Hales-Roy alliance.
“Certainly the way the two of them play, and the method in which they play, can contribute to the rest of the order.
“It can give off a lot of confidence. It is similar to the way Jos Buttler plays, Moeen Ali plays – it is infectious throughout the team.”
At the suggestion it might be tough on Roy to drop him after just six matches, the captain said: “Yes, it would be - absolutely.
“We’ve seen a little bit of Jason so far. He’s done well at Surrey for the last couple of years, and excites us in the way he plays.”