Strauss wary of England complacency
Eoin Morgan again proved himself a special player for England as they went 1-0 up on Australia - but captain Andrew Strauss knows that is just the start of this summer’s NatWest Series story.
Strauss last night lauded Dublin-born Morgan’s 85-ball 103 not out as one of the best innings he has ever seen from an England player.
He warned too, though, that the team continue to need contributions from others - which came yesterday thanks to Luke Wright and Tim Bresnan in important stands with Morgan - and must not start congratulating themselves just yet against world-beating opponents.
Asked to compare the new-look England with the team that lost 6-1 to Australia in the corresponding series on home soil last September, Strauss said: “I’d prefer to answer that after five games, not one.
“We’ve done a lot of things right in this game. The bowlers did a good job to restrict them to 267, and I think at the half-way mark we were in front.
“But it’s just one game of cricket - and Australia being Australia, they will come back hard at us for these remaining games.
“Let’s not pat ourselves on the back too much at this stage.”
Strauss could hardly help but be pleased with what he has seen so far.
He added: “Ultimately, it was a very satisfying victory. But I think there are areas we could improve on from this game.
“We can’t rely on one person. That would be wrong - we need to get (batting) contributions from one to nine, which is why it was good that Luke Wright came in and did a good job at number six and Tim Bresnan at number seven.”
Asked whether anything is possible as long as Morgan is still at the crease, he agreed: “It certainly seems that way at the moment.
“The great thing about ’Morgy’ is he’s turning into a really good finisher, but he does it in an aggressive manner.
“That puts the opposition captains under some real pressure, and he’s doing it consistently.
“It was an outstanding innings and certainly one of the very best I’ve seen in an England shirt.
“He played some outrageous shots, and the great thing is he can score round the wicket against all sorts of bowling.
“As an opposition captain, you are scratching your head to think ’How can we tie him down?’. That’s proving difficult at the moment.”
Strauss also singled out Dublin-born Morgan, an integral part of a new-look one-day international team, as the “Michael Bevan-type” player England have long been searching for.
Invited to compare Morgan with the famed former Australia finisher, Strauss said: “We’ve been looking for a Michael Bevan-type character for quite a long time.
“Morgs has shown a few times now, in both 50-over and 20-over cricket, that he can play in a similar fashion - and probably even a little bit more aggressively than Bevan."
Morgan’s own reflections on his innings - which gave England a surprisingly decisive verdict, after Michael Clarke (87 not out) had helped set a testing target under lights - were notable for an understatement which contrasted with his deeds on the pitch.
“I’m just doing what I practise really,” said the left-hander.
“It was an absolute belter of a wicket and allowed us to go out and, once you got in, play your shots.
“I just played my percentages.”
Ricky Ponting was the man who had to try to tame the left-hander - but admitted afterwards it had proved beyond his team.
“I thought we were a bit below-par with our batting. But we managed things pretty well during the middle of our innings and we did a reasonable job to get to that total, from 90 odd for four,” he said.
“That sort of total was probably a little bit shy - it was a great wicket and the outfield was very, very fast.
“Then Morgan played very, very well. A hundred off 80 odd balls, chasing that sort of score, is always a special innings.”