England hope for Prior recovery

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Matt Prior & Eoin Morgan

Matt Prior is recovering well from a virus but Eoin Morgan could again keep wicket against Group B opponents New Zealand

England will assess whether wicketkeeper Matt Prior can return to action ahead of their final ICC Champions Trophy group game today.

Prior, 27, has been confined to his hotel room with a virus but was making a good recovery in the build-up to the Group B contest against New Zealand at the Wanderers.

If he is either not well enough or not risked ahead of the semi-finals, then Eoin Morgan could retain his place behind the stumps.

“He has been pretty sick but these things can change very quickly,” said England captain Andrew Strauss. “Hopefully he will be fit pretty quickly.”

Irishman Morgan did a satisfactory job with the gloves in the 22-run win over South Africa but it was his impression with the bat which will be lasting.

His 67 from just 34 balls, including five sixes, powered England to their sixth-highest 50-over international score.

“I have always felt he has all the attributes to do well at this level,” Strauss said of Morgan.

“He has a huge array of shots, he is a very calm individual and he seems to be very much in control of his game.

“It always takes a bit of time for a guy to get used to playing international cricket but he has shown glimpses before and these last two games out here he has been as impressive as any 23-year-old I have seen ever.”

England have suddenly clicked following a 6-1 NatWest Series defeat to Australia earlier this month.

Both Owais Shah and Morgan gave a masterclass in clearing the ropes as England managed it a record dozen times on Sunday evening.

Former Ireland batsman Morgan has displayed both sides to his game since arriving in South Africa, in fact, his deft touches worth an unbeaten half-century against Sri Lanka.

Daniel Vettori

Captain Daniel Vettori believes his Black Caps side can also upset the form book by joining England in the semi-final stage

“He’s got both games,” said Shah. “At times it’s the deflecting stuff that he does, but he has got the ability to hit the ball out of the park. For a tiny guy I think that is just phenomenal.

“The good thing about Eoin is that he always works on the other game as well. He knows that he can play the deflecting game, especially to hit boundaries, but he is always trying to practise hitting the ball out of the ground just in case the opposition have done their homework and covered that sort of the thing.”

England are aiming to secure top spot today while injury-hit New Zealand hope to make it an unfancied duo qualifying for the last four from Group B.

“I probably wouldn’t have envisaged the teams involved but I knew it was going to be a tight group,” said captain Daniel Vettori.

“Everyone’s favourites were South Africa but all the teams in this group have proved themselves at one-day level for a while now.

“It is great for us that our chance to get through is our own destiny.

“Everyone was picking Sri Lanka and South Africa to go through and England and New Zealand to battle it out.

“It has been a complete reversal, which is great for both sides.”

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