By Rob Barnett
Competition for places in England’s 2015 World Cup squad will intensify during the one-day international series with Australia, according to Eoin Morgan.
The Ashes rivals will clash on Valentine’s Day next year at the MCG in their opening match of a tournament being co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
The same ground on Sunday stages the first encounter of a five-game rubber that could end with either participant ranked number one in the world.
Although India currently lead Australia and England, who are second and third respectively, a 3-2 win or better will put the hosts top while their opponents require at least a 4-1 scoreline, assuming each ODI has a positive result.
Rather than thinking about rankings statistics, Morgan is looking forward to playing in a third World Cup, having represented Ireland in 2007 and England in 2011.
"There's about 400 days before the World Cup starts and it starts here in Melbourne," said Morgan, who has been playing for Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League.
"It's really exciting and the platform we build while we’re here during this series is really important.
"It's important that we do learn from any mistakes that we do make and that we build confidence down in this side of the world."
The pressure for positions in England’s 50-over side grew during September’s NatWest Series with the emergence of several players.
Morgan led his adopted country in the absence of the rested Alastair Cook as Ben Stokes, Boyd Rankin and Chris Jordan announced themselves.
“If you look at the last one-day series, the opportunities that came about, it was the rise of Ben Stokes, Boyd Rankin and Chris Jordan, which is magnificent,” enthused Morgan, who is back in the ranks for this rubber.
The emergence of such a trio will make life tough for England’s selectors to choose a party for the World Cup and allows for the likes of Stuart Broad to be rested over the next week.
“It’s fantastic for the squad that guys are coming in and doing well and it allows us to build a great base because we will be able to take 15 to a World Cup,” Morgan added.
“It’s going to be a tight squeeze picking 15 cricketers because we could potentially take 20.”