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    ‘We must improve on slow, turning pitches’: Captain Eoin Morgan believes Old Trafford pitch for one-day series against Australia will help England prepare for World Cup

    • England face Australia in the first of three 50-over matches on Friday
    • Captain Morgan wants his side to be better prepared for low, slow pitches
    • Old Trafford pitch is expected to be slow and turn due to overcast conditions 

    Eoin Morgan wants England to forget about the spectacular hitting that inspired their incredible World Cup victory last year and instead learn to win ugly.

    The England captain leads his side into their one-day series against Australia at Emirates Old Trafford on Friday banking on conditions that will promote pragmatism rather than pyrotechnics.

    That way, Morgan believes, England will be better prepared for the low, slow pitches they will need to conquer if they are to win both next year’s Twenty20 World Cup in India and then the 50-over version they will defend on the sub-continent in 2023.

    Captain Eoin Morgan wants England to be better prepared for the low, slow pitches

    PROBABLE TEAMS

    England: Roy, Bairstow, Root, Morgan (captain), Buttler (keeper), Billings, Moeen, Woakes, Rashid, Archer, Wood.

    Australia: Warner, Finch (captain), Smith, Labuschagne, Maxwell, M Marsh, Carey (keeper), Cummins, Starc, Zampa, Hazlewood. 

     

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    ‘It’s a huge benefit playing at Old Trafford, particularly if we have the wicket I think we’re going to play on which will hopefully be slow and take a lot of turn,’ said Morgan ahead of the first of three 50-over matches that complete the men’s bio-secure international summer.

    ‘That’s the sort of pitch we will face in India and it will expose us in areas where we need to get better. Over the last four and a half years we have had to wait to play at Cardiff or Old Trafford or go away on tour to experience those conditions. A little more of that will help us improve at what we need to.’

    The last time Morgan played at Old Trafford he smashed 17 sixes on his own in the World Cup against Afghanistan but he does not expect any of the pace and bounce that can give Manchester a reputation for the best pitches in the country.

    Tom Curran (right) warms up with Jonny Bairstow during an England net session at Old Trafford

    Tom Curran (right) warms up with Jonny Bairstow during an England net session at Old Trafford

    ‘When the sun is out it can fly through and be pacey,’ said Morgan. ‘But it’s been overcast and that makes it tacky. That means we can focus on things that are a weakness and create a new dynamic. It makes sense for us to plan around pitches like this.’

    Morgan wants more of his team, which should include 10 members of their World Cup winning squad, to stand up against the old enemy and be leaders as they begin in earnest a new 50-over cycle with the bar now set very high.

    ‘It’s an area we are trying to improve so different guys step up at different times,’ said Morgan, who has recovered from the finger injury that kept him out of Tuesday’s final Twenty20 defeat. ‘It’s something we’ve neglected but in the last stages of the World Cup our leaders stood up vocally and performance-wise. We want more of that.’

    Fast bowler Jofra Archer may not get a fast and bouncy track at Old Trafford on Friday

    Fast bowler Jofra Archer may not get a fast and bouncy track at Old Trafford on Friday

    The need for leadership is more acute when Morgan, who on Thursday celebrated his 34th birthday, and Ben Stokes, still on compassionate leave, are absent.

    Moeen Ali stepped in for Tuesday’s sole T20 defeat in the absence of Morgan and Jos Buttler and was also in charge in the field with Morgan off injured when Ireland chased 329 to win the last 50-over international England played.

    ‘Nobody is irreplaceable,’ said the man who has come closest to it while becoming the most inspirational captain in world cricket. 

    ‘I try to lead in a calm manner and I know Moeen is in the same boat. We had a glimpse of what it might look like with Moeen in charge the other night while Jos and Ben come across as more vocal and passionate. We are trying to build a group of different leaders to drive things forward.’ 

    Joe Root takes part in a catching drill during a net session at Old Trafford on Thursday

    Joe Root takes part in a catching drill during a net session at Old Trafford on Thursday

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