Eoin Morgan has called on England to raise their game for their T20 World Cup semi-final against New Zealand, with his team only two matches away from becoming the first to unite cricket’s two white-ball trophies.
‘We can’t wait,’ he said ahead of the showdown in Abu Dhabi, with the prize of a final in Dubai on Sunday against either Australia or Pakistan for the winner.
‘It was a big achievement in itself coming through the group stage like we did, topping the table. But now it’s all about producing as close to your best as we can. We know how good New Zealand are.’
Eoin Morgan has urged England to raise their game for their T20 World Cup semi-final clash
England are likely to react to opener Jason Roy’s tournament-ending calf injury by moving Jonny Bairstow up to open and drafting Sam Billings into the middle order.
Morgan, meanwhile, also believes that leading his side to the final despite several key figures missing out would be one of his greatest achievements as captain.
Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Sam Curran were all not available ahead of the tournament, while Roy and Tymal Mills suffered their own fitness blows.
Morgan’s (pictured) side take on New Zealand with the prize of a final this weekend on the line
Keeping his cards close to his chest about his selection, Morgan explained that victory on Wednesday would represent a significant moment.
‘You might only get to the final and lose but getting to the final would be a hell of an achievement,’ Morgan said.
As well as Bairstow, Dawid Malan, Liam Livingstone and Moeen Ali are also candidates to jump up the order to partner Jos Buttler.
‘We are blessed with guys who can bat at the top of the order and actually want to,’ Morgan added. ‘If you look around the highest run-scorers, the big-name players all want to bat or are batting in the top three in every team.
Opener Jos Buttler will have a new partner following Jason Roy’s tournament-ending calf injury
‘We’re lucky we have guys who queue up and want to bat in that top-three which is great because they want to go head-to-head with the big-name players in the tournament and big-name bowlers in the opposition.’
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson said: ‘They’ve got match winners throughout their team. But we also have a number of match winners as well. It’s a great challenge against England.’
Williamson has admitted his side look back fondly on being part of the 2019 World Cup final against England, despite his team losing out in the pulsating match-up.
The Black Caps were made to watch on as England lifted their first 50-over global trophy, following a tied score and gripping super-over.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson labelled the semi-final encounter as a ‘great challenge’
Despite the boundary countback rule proving divisive at the time, Williamson is keen to draw a line under the controversy and is relishing the next encounter.
‘Everybody’s got a different opinion on it, you know, to have ties and boundary counts and all these sorts of dramatic things that decide some matches – or not so much anymore,’ said Williamson.
‘But it was an amazing game to be a part of and certainly all the guys, when it does come up in conversation, it’s looked back on fondly and we appreciate that experience.
England beat the Black Caps to clinch the 2019 World Cup, but Williamson is keen to move on
‘At the time all the aftermath was very difficult to understand and perhaps didn’t make a lot of sense but it is what it is: you sign up, you play by the rules, you move on and look forward to the next challenges.
‘As a group they continue to come thick and fast and that’s where we like to put our focus. Not long after that was some Test cricket focus.
‘Now we’re at a T20 World Cup and the cricket just continues to roll on.’
FIVE THINGS ENGLAND MUST DO
by Lawrence Booth in Dubai
Attack New Zealand’s spinners
Ish Sodhi’s leg-breaks and Mitchell Santner’s slow left-armers have stifled opponents throughout the World Cup, going at a combined 6.86 an over. If England’s batsmen allow them to get into a groove, the middle overs will fly by before they know it.
Eoin Morgan admitted his team’s intent in the field was missing during the defeat by South Africa, when England gave away three overthrows – one via the boot of Mark Wood. That followed what might have proved a crucial drop by Chris Woakes against Sri Lanka. Such sloppiness will cost them against New Zealand.
Find a way if Buttler fails
Buttler’s lowest score in five Super 12 innings was 18 against Bangladesh. Otherwise, he has led the charge every time. But Jason Roy’s injury leaves England in a tight spot: if Buttler fails, as the law of averages dictates he must at some point, others will need to stand up. On current form, Moeen Ali and Liam Livingstone look likeliest.
Two of New Zealand’s most dangerous hitters are openers Martin Guptill and Daryl Mitchell. Split them in the powerplay, and England can bowl at Kane Williamson and Devon Conway, whose strike-rates in the World Cup are a modest 98 and 102. They’re both high-class players, but can be passive against spin.
Avoid getting bogged down
So far, it has barely been a problem. England’s tournament run-rate of 8.76 is higher than anyone else’s, even unbeaten Pakistan (8.51) – and more than a run above New Zealand (7.60). But Dawid Malan’s strike-rate has been 111 and Morgan’s 116. England will have to be smart when they decide which batsmen to pair together, and which to keep apart.