South Africa v England, 1st T20, Cape Town February 18, 2016

Morgan happy with form, England options

ESPNcricinfo staff

Eoin Morgan made 64 runs in five innings during the ODIs with South Africa © Getty Images

Eoin Morgan has said that he is not worried about his dip in form during the ODI series with South Africa and suggested that England are close to settling on their best XI ahead of the World T20.

Morgan, England's limited-overs captain, made just 64 runs from five innings during the ODIs, which England lost 3-2 despite taking a 2-0 lead. Morgan enjoyed a productive 2015, during which his team made great strides in white-ball cricket, and made a mark on the warm-up match against South Africa A in Paarl on Wednesday, where he smashed 42 from 13 balls.

"It felt great. I haven't felt out of form, just short on runs, and it was nice to come in and play with the freedom I like playing with," he said of the innings. "I'd like to come out and score some runs in these next two games - it might happen, it might not - but I'll stay true to what's worked for me in recent times. That has come with experience.

"If you're practising well and hitting close to the middle of the bat more often than not, you don't feel out of form.

"For me, it's balance - getting back and forward off front and back foot. If that's pretty clear and clinical, you should get close to the middle of the bat more often than not. But when I'm out of form, it can be thrown a little bit - and you miss the ball, or nick it."

England intend to select their first-choice side against South Africa, rather than experiment in the lead up to the World T20 in India - a strategy that differs from the one set out by Faf du Plessis.

While du Plessis is more concerned about his side's preparations than results, Morgan wants England to maintain their momentum in the T20 format, having won their last six games stretching back to 2014 - although he said winning was "not the be all and end all".

"Good performances here will be not crucial but a huge bonus, going into the World Cup," he said. "Starting a quite a high intensity and stamping our mark on these two games is quite a big thing. They're playing at home, are a very strong side at home, and will be difficult to beat.

"The performances we put in are going to be more crucial than actually getting over the line. If you get over the line, that goes a long way to keeping the momentum we do have and the feelgood attitude within the group."

England's line-up is likely to include two allrounders in Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali, after they sat out the 44-run win in Paarl. The batting is largely settled - although James Vince, England's Man of the Series in the UAE last year, is set to miss out - and Morgan expressed confidence in the wicket-taking abilities of David Willey and Reece Topley with the new ball, as well as spinners Moeen and Adi Rashid.

"I think this attack can win games for us," Morgan said. "With the spin department covered, and the two left-armers coming in and being a threat up front, it adds a huge dynamic to our game. A big strength is the fact we do bat deep. But with these strings to our bow, it makes us a bigger threat.

"Ben Stokes will come back in. Our best team at the moment, we're very close to selecting it or having a really good idea of what it is - which is good, considering we're a few weeks out from a World Cup. But there's still probably a couple of options we might be able to take, given the pitches we might come up against.

"We're allowed to bat deep because of Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali, and we'll look to continue that."

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  • 3Lions_RIP on February 19, 2016, 4:48 GMT

    Morgan is very crucial in T20s for England. A firing and in-form Morgan can dismantle the opposition single-handedly like he did against OZ at home after the ashes. But then, it all comes down to how well these "Don't want the ball coming to me" fielders perform cause we have also seen glimpses of brilliance from this inexperienced bowling attack where they have created chances that were spilled. This is one clear area of concern which Bayliss and Farbrace needs to patch up quickly. They should target to having this area functioning effectively before the Champions Trophy next year cause the WT20 is already upon us and there's very limited time. Most of the English players are very average at catching with the exception of Stokes, Jordan and Morgan himself. This can't win you Championships. Even Root as young and brilliant he is at batting, can't take great catches or half chances yet. The entire team needs to be near the trio's level.

  • D.S.A on February 18, 2016, 23:19 GMT

    The chest-pumping won't score runs; legit quality will, and he is not it, but then again, the WT20 will show this. Heck, if the pitches are not that batsman-friendly, he'll continue to struggle against South Africa in this series, but don't worry...because he scored 42 against the S.A A side, who, according to some that believe it to be relevant, had 3 players in the match who are in S.A's WT20 squad (even though one of them can't bowl i.e. Miller, and even though one of them will bowl sparsely in his career now i.e. Behardien, and even though only one of those three bowled in the match i.e. Phangiso, and even though he only bowled one ball to Morgan!). Hahaha. Hilarious. How dare I say anything negative about Morgan though, right...who averages about 21 in the IPL, lol. What dominance over mostly Indian bowlers! It will get easier against the international bowlers though...lol. P2 of 2.

  • D.S.A on February 18, 2016, 23:15 GMT

    Why is Morgan making veiled criticism of Rashid's fielding costing England the series, and not pointing out his run out chance in the SAME match? Typical. Rashid dropped Morris in the 41.5 over, and Morgan missed an easy run out on 42.3. Why doesn't he "lead by example" and more drab phrases like that... This is Cricinfo's own description of the delivery: "42.3 - Stokes to Abbott, 1 run, dabbed into the covers, a suicide run to mid-off, and Morgan almost had time to walk that onto the non-striker's stumps. Instead he snatches at the underarm shy, and misses". Sure, the dismissal would have been of Abbott, not Morris, but South Africa needed 50 from 48 balls, and were 8 down. As we now know, Abbott kept Morris company, so he, too, was crucial to S.A's victory, yet Morgan has no criticism of his own actions. His ego will be taken down several pegs when they lose to S.A in the WT20, as well as the West Indies, as they have too much pride to lose to England in a T20 match. P1 of 2.

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