CAPTAIN Eoin Morgan is treating England’s Champions Trophy tie against Australia as his version of the Ashes.
White-ball specialist Morgan has long acknowledged he does not expect to be adding to his 16 Test caps, none of which came against England’s oldest and highest-profile enemy.
More than five years since he last played Test cricket, England’s one-day international captain therefore reasons that the chance to eliminate Australia at the group stage of this summer’s global tournament is as close as he is going to get to the rarefied atmosphere of the Ashes themselves.
England are in the enviable position of having already qualified for a semi-final in Cardiff next week while Australia must win at Edgbaston today to sneak a last-four place.
It is a match full of opportunity and precious little pressure for the hosts, and Morgan is relishing the prospect, especially because, on his road to a home World Cup in 2019, he is pitting himself against Australia.
The 30-year-old was part of England’s memorable 2010-11 Ashes-winning squad, but played only in the tour match against Victoria in Melbourne between the second and third Tests.
He said: “I’ve been in a position where I haven’t played in Ashes cricket, and certainly there are other guys down in the changing room (in the same situation).”
“If you never get to play in an Ashes game, this is the closest you will ever get to beating an Australia team.”
Five other members of England’s probable team, unchanged after their win over New Zealand in Cardiff on Tuesday, have also yet to play in an Ashes Test.
For all, the possibility of ending Australia’s interest in the tournament is an obvious extra motivation.
If you never get to play in an Ashes game, this is the closest you will ever get to beating an Australia team.England captain, Eoin Morgan.
Morgan, however, is already looking further ahead.
“If we’re looking to win this tournament and go beyond and win the World Cup, we need to be beating the best sides in the world – and Australia at the moment are one of them,” he added.
To that end, he will continue to lead by example, having grown in stature to the point that England’s assistant coach Paul Farbrace has described him as “the single biggest influence” behind the team’s dramatic improvement since the last World Cup.
Morgan said: “I say things in selection meetings or meetings that we have as a team, and they might be a bit far-fetched – but when we back them up as a side, they’re not. I think that builds trust within a group.
“If you can demonstrate what you’re trying to say and achieve and you go and achieve that, I think it goes a long way within a side.”
Out-of-form Jason Roy has a miserable aggregate of 47 runs in seven ODI innings this summer.
But Morgan is keeping faith that the big-hitting opener will come good, and reports Roy remains in the right frame of mind despite his struggles.
“Jason speaks to everybody, and understands that everybody goes through bad patches,” he said. “The thing that we emphasise is that we believe his score is around the corner. Let’s hope it’s (today).”