Eoin Morgan believes England must adapt to spinning pitches if they are to successfully defend their World Cup title in India, and hopes that work can begin during the one-day series against Australia.
Captain Morgan is anticipating a gentle turner at Old Trafford, where the arch-rivals will play three ODIs over the next week, with the weather conditions and wicket likely to favour slow bowlers.
England’s rise to top spot in the 50-over rankings was built around posting big totals on good batting tracks and their tournament triumph last year was driven by their pace attack.
But with the next edition due to be held in India in 2023, as well a T20 World Cup there next year, Morgan is embracing the need for change.
“It’s a huge benefit to us playing at Old Trafford, particularly if we play on the wicket I think we’re going to play on, which will hopefully be slow and take a lot of turn,” he said.
“It’s been overcast and that makes it tacky. That’s the sort of wicket we will be more than likely to play on in India in the World Cup of 2023 and to play on that for a period of time will expose us in different areas we need to get better at.”
He said over the past few years England had had to wait to play at Cardiff or Old Trafford to experience such conditions, and that more exposure would help them.
“I think going away from what we are strong at will do us good for a period of time,” he said. “It allows us to focus on things that are our weaknesses as a side, so it creates a new dynamic.”
A powerful batting order might need to evolve its methods, while Jofra Archer and Mark Wood will hope to balance their outright speed with other tools.
Test skipper Joe Root, arguably England’s least explosive batsman, could play a crucial role on sub-continental style pitches, while leg-spinner Adil Rashid will be a key weapon.
“For me he’s the number one variation bowler in the world at the moment,” said Morgan of Rashid. “He’s continuing to improve his game. He’s been in as fine form as I’ve seen him.”
As for Root, who was disappointed to be overlooked for England’s recent Twenty20 series win over Australia, the Dubliner added: “Joe is one of the best players in the world. Throughout the last World Cup it was clear what a valuable player he is to us and I think he’s undersold a lot of the time in white-ball cricket.”
England have a fully fit squad ahead of Friday’s opener, including the returning Jason Roy, with Morgan also clear after missing the final T20 in Southampton with a dislocated finger.
Morgan is fully committed to the captaincy but said England were planning for the future.
“The age-old saying of not thinking of captaincy before you’re given it, we’re trying to get rid of that stigma and build not one leader but a group that will support them and drive things forward,” he said.