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Morgan focused on England progression rather than Smith and Warner’s reception

Morgan focused on England progression rather than Smith and Warner’s reception

Tuesday 25 June 2019

Morgan focused on England progression rather than Smith and Warner’s reception


Eoin Morgan is more concerned about easing England’s path to the World Cup semi-finals than smoothing Steve Smith or David Warner’s road to redemption.

The tournament hosts take on Australia at Lord’s on Tuesday in a game loaded with personal and professional importance.

In the context of the competition England are in greater need of the two points, having slipped to a second unexpected defeat against Sri Lanka last week, while their visitors have the chance to tighten their grip on a semi-final place at the expense of their greatest rivals.

Yet it was Smith and Warner who dominated the conversation on the eve of the game, with intrigue mounting around how they would be received at the home of cricket.

Recently returned from year-long bans following their roles in the sandpaper and ball-tampering scandal, the duo can expect plenty of rough rides between now and the end of the Ashes in September.

It falls on the Lord’s faithful to set the tone, though, and Morgan has no intention of following India captain Virat Kohli’s lead by appealing for the pair to be applauded rather than heckled.

Kohli gestured for Smith and Warner to be applauded
Kohli gestured for Smith and Warner to be applauded (Nigel French/PA)

“I didn’t see that but when I heard about it I thought about it for quite a while,” he said.

“I thought about ‘would it help in the right way?’ and ‘is it right?’ – but it didn’t sit right with me.

“I think fans and supporters up and down the country will have different reactions, as they will around the world.

“Just because two guys have been punished, served their punishment and returned to play, it doesn’t mean they will be accepted back into the cricket community straight away. It will take time.”

Morgan is confident his side will deliver
Morgan is confident his side will deliver (Nigel French/PA)

His opposite number also opted out of appealing to supporters, suggesting any such pleas would likely fall on deaf ears.

“I think whatever the public do, you’re not going to change it,” he said.

“Whether someone comes out and says do or don’t, I think it’s just going to happen regardless. It hasn’t affected our boys one bit, I can honestly say that if anything, it’s given them a bit more motivation.”

Morgan denied that England’s surprise setback against Sri Lanka was a result of buckling in the face of expectation and backed his side to rise to the occasion.

“Our guys have performed under pressure for a long time, they have performed as favourites in series for the last two years,” he said.

“I’ve no questions of us performing under pressure. I don’t think nerves have played a part at all.

“Naturally the guys are upset but they are very excited about getting back on the park to try and produce what everybody’s used to seeing us play.”

Finch is expecting an England backlash
Finch is expecting an England backlash (Adam Davy/PA)

England have not lost back-to-back games on home soil since a brace of defeats to Australia in September 2015 and Aaron Finch knows to expect a backlash to their loss in Leeds.

“They tend to bounce back and go ultra aggressive, so we’re ready for that,” he said.

“We’re expecting them to come out and go ultra-hard.”

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