BULLISH England skipper Eoin Morgan insists his side’s premier form is capable of not only toppling Australia in their World Cup opener but also powering a bid for tournament glory.
Following their showdown with Australia in Melbourne, which starts in the early hours of tomorrow morning, England face fellow co-hosts New Zealand before fixtures against Scotland, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
A top-two finish in Pool A will increase the chances of avoiding a powerhouse such as South Africa in the quarter-final, in contrast to their last World Cup appearance in 2011 when England stumbled to group-phase defeats against Bangladesh and Ireland.
This prompted a last-eight tie against Sri Lanka in Colombo and a 10-wicket thrashing, and while England have lost 13 of their last 15 one-day internationals against Australia Down Under, Morgan has dismissed any sense of intimidation.
“It’s not too much of a stretch, we are more than capable of winning this World Cup,” said Morgan, whose Australian counterpart Michael Clarke has been ruled out of tomorrow’s match. “We are very dangerous, an emerging, young side with a lot of talent. Given the freedom that we are trying to play with, if we play our best cricket on Saturday, we will win.
“We have guys with a huge amount of experience who have beaten Australia before. Some of this team have won consecutive Ashes series. We’ve been in this position before and our time will come again.”
Morgan also brushed off concerns about his own batting slump and backed himself to rediscover the form which saw the left-hander smash a tri-series century against Australia last month. The 28-year-old has scored just two runs in four innings since, including consecutive first-ball ducks against Australia, although Morgan is adamant there is no need to panic.
“I’m not really concerned,” he added. “I’ve had a couple of low scores but I’ll look to cash in on Saturday if I manage to get past 10-20 balls. I think it is four or five games since I scored a hundred and I find it really easy to reconnect with the past and can be very individually focussed when the chips are down.”
■ Australia have lost two of their last 36 World Cup matches
■ England have won 10 of their last 29 one-day internationals
■ Not since 1992 have England won a knockout phase match at a World Cup
■ Skipper Eoin Morgan has been dismissed for less than 20 in nine of his last 11 ODI innings