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Cook rues Morgan loss

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Eoin Morgan

Alastair Cook has rued the loss of Eoin Morgan, above, but admitted that his absence creates a fantastic opportunity for another squad member

Captain Alastair Cook has called for England’s squad players to fill the void created by Eoin Morgan’s injury absence.

Having already been ruled out the remainder of the NatWest Series campaign against India with a right shoulder injury, it was confirmed yesterday that Morgan would require surgery on the problem.

The result is a three-month lay-off for the Middlesex batsman, meaning he is unavailable for England’s limited-overs tour of India later this year.

“It’s obviously a massive loss,” said Cook. “He’s an outstanding player. It’s gutting news for Eoin that he has to have the operation and he’s going to miss a substantial amount of cricket now with an important tour.

“But it gives someone else an opportunity and if we want to really keep improving as a team we need a good squad to do it.”

In recent times, Morgan has demonstrated his brilliance in the “finisher” role and last night England prevailed in the very situation he thrives under, beating India by three wickets with seven balls to spare in the third one-day international at the Kia Oval.

In pursuit of a revised target of 218 following a rain interruption, England fell to 133 for five, leaving the match in the balance.

However, a composed partnership of 60 for the sixth wicket between Ravi Bopara and Tim Bresnan proved crucial and, although Bopara fell for 40 with 10 still required, Cook praised his Essex county-colleague for effectively taking up Morgan’s mantle.

“The biggest positive is the way we handled that pressure towards the end and a lot of credit goes to Ravi especially, backed up by Tim Bresnan,” Cook said.

“Someone else has an opportunity to really nail down a spot a bit like Ravi did today, and he might not have been playing had Eoin been fit so it really is encouraging signs.

“He’s been a hallmark of our batting – a really fantastic middle-order finisher, but now someone else gets the chance to do that. And if we can develop more people who can perform that role it can only strengthen our team.”

England take a 2-0 lead into the final two games of the five-match series and a further brace of wins will see them move ahead of world champions India up to fourth in the ICC one-day rankings, having usurped their visitors at the top of the Test match tree earlier this summer.

Despite the unprecedented prospect of a whitewash over India in all formats, Cook remains fully focused on the mantra of constant improvement that has underpinned England’s rapid progress under team director Andy Flower.

The focus of the captain’s attention was India’s final total of 234 for seven, having initially languished on 58 for five.

Ravindra Jadeja – top scorer with 78 on his return to the India side – and Ravichandran Ashwin put on 59 in 31 balls as the innings reached its conclusion, thrilling a sizeable and vocal Indian contingent in the stands as England’s earlier impressive discipline with the ball deserted them.

Cook added: “There’s always stuff to learn, always stuff improve – they did probably get too many if we’re being brutally honest with ourselves.

“They got 70 or 80-odd in the last eight overs and in an ideal world they wouldn’t do, but they played well.”

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