Morgan thrilled to make his mark
Eoin Morgan was delighted to get his international summer up and running with a magnificent match-winning knock in the first NatWest Series one-day international against Australia.
The 25-year-old left-hander endured a difficult tour of the United Arab Emirates at the beginning of the year and was subsequently dropped from England’s Test team.
However, he remains an integral part of Andy Flower’s one-day set-up and showed just why at Lord’s, his home ground, as he took Australia’s much-vaunted attack apart.
After bringing up his half-century from 45 deliveries, Morgan accelerated in devastating fashion in the closing overs to finish unbeaten on 89 off 63, with four sixes and five fours.
England’s total of 272 for five represented a fine effort after they had been invited to bat first in seamer-friendly conditions and Australia subsequently fell short on 257 for nine, despite half-centuries from skipper Michael Clarke and David Warner.
Reflecting on his man-of-the-match display, Morgan said: “It’s not fun when you’re not getting any runs and not contributing to the team. So today was a big start for my summer.”
After making alterations to his technique, Morgan was understandably delighted to see his hard work pay off.
“When I came back from Dubai I had two weeks off. I reflected on what I’d done poorly in the UAE and made some technical changes,” he revealed.
“One of them was the balance of my head, and the other was my hand movement. The stuff I did was very basic. It’s just a matter of monitoring it.”
Morgan’s innings drew high praise from captain Alastair Cook, who, along with Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott, played a valuable role in setting a platform for England’s late charge.
Cook and Bell saw off the two new balls to reach 40 and 41 respectively, while the ever-reliable Trott chipped in with 54 before Morgan stole the show with his late pyrotechnics.
“To score at a strike-rate of 130 or 140 is an incredible innings, and got us up to a really competitive score,” said Cook.
“Clearly, it was hard work to start with at the top. The ball was nipping around a bit, but what was pleasing is that we didn't panic as a batting order.
"We kept wickets in hand, and we all know at Lord's - and in English conditions generally - you can make up (time), especially with people like Eoin to come in. It worked well.
"To get a good start like we did - it might have been a bit slow - meant we certainly laid the groundwork for someone like 'Morgs' to come in and do what he did.”
Cook was also pleased with the performance of his five-man attack, who struck at regular intervals to undermine an Australia reply that appeared to be running smoothly on more than one occasion.
Seamers James Anderson, who was troubled by a minor groin problem, Steven Finn, Tim Bresnan and Stuart Broad all picked up two wickets apiece today.
“We thought 270 was a par score. Thankfully we just kept nipping wickets at the right time,” Cook reasoned.
“It’s nice as a captain when you can keep pulling on bowlers of that quality. You take one off and another one keeps following up and keeps the pressure on. That’s the idea, anyway.”
Cook’s opposite number, Clarke, reflected on two key areas where Australia had fallen short.
“We probably didn’t execute our skills at the death as well as we could have and then we lost wickets at important stages of the game where we needed blokes to go on and make big scores,” he explained.
“Morgan played really well, that’s for sure. He deserves a lot of credit; he helped England get to a very good total and it was too good for us unfortunately.”
Clarke and Matthew Wade had threatened to carry their team to victory after joining forces at 147 for five in the 33rd over.
However, their burgeoning partnership was halted on 57 when the skipper set off for a run and Wade failed to respond. The latter was run out at the non-striker’s end for 27 and Clarke fell lbw to Bresnan for 61 in the next over to end any realistic hopes of an Australia win.
“It probably played a big part in us not winning the game,” said Clarke of the run-out.
“If Matthew and I were there at the end, we were confident that we had a chance. It was disappointing and run outs tend to do that, don’t they? They tend to cost you the game.”