Eoin Morgan has revealed he will use the upcoming three-match IT20 series against Pakistan as an opportunity to assess the options at his disposal with the World Cup around the corner.
The England skipper has emerged from Covid-induced isolation to lead the side at Trent Bridge in the first match of the series, and has admitted that, with few opportunities left to look at players before heading to the UAE, there will be chances across the squad.
“There are very few games before the T20 World Cup, so we will use this opportunity to test our strength in depth,” he said.
“The priority throughout this series will be to give guys opportunities, and treat it like it is our last chance to look at them in various positions.
“When you are trying to plan ahead, you want to look at areas for improvement. Players will keep their own roles but there will be rotation.”
It may mean an opportunity for Notts’ representative in the squad, Jake Ball, who was unused in One Day Internationals against Pakistan.
The 50-over whitewash was a series which Morgan took pleasure in viewing whilst in quarantine.
“It was great to watch,” Morgan said.
“Over the last six years I haven’t been able to enjoy the cricket England play as much as I would like, but sitting back and watching the way that side played, even without the result, was satisfying.
“They played an exciting brand of cricket, they looked like they enjoyed themselves and the result came with that. It was all round hugely beneficial.
“Looking back at where we were in 2015 to where we are now is a huge achievement. Certainly guys recognize that opportunities are few and far between, but the successful method we have applied is starting to resonate, which is great."
At the end of June, Lancashire’s Saqib Mahmood was plying his T20 trade at Trent Bridge in the Vitality Blast. A few weeks later, he was one of a handful of stand-out players in the ODI series, with nine wickets across the three matches.
The England captain was particularly impressed by Mahmood’s performance, as well as two other players who could be a part of sides visiting Trent Bridge in the Blast quarter finals; Somerset’s Lewis Gregory and Hampshire’s James Vince.
“Those players have done themselves a world of good,” Morgan said.
“One thing you look at when players come in and out of the side, particularly when they don’t have a lot of opportunities to play, is a marked improvement from one game to the next.
“All three of those guys were outstanding throughout the series. Looking at someone like James, in his prime at 30, who knows his game inside out and is very mature, is great. He showed the strength in depth within the side.”
Morgan also reserved special mention for Ben Stokes, who returned sooner than anticipated from injury to lead England in the ODI series and will now rest to ensure his fitness for the Test series against India.
While he was replaced by Nottinghamshire’s Stuart Broad for June’s Test series against New Zealand due to his injury, Ben Stokes has been Joe Root’s usual lieutenant with the red-ball, and his leadership credentials came to the fore against Pakistan.
“Leading the way he did is a compliment to the person he is within our side, and it shows how mature has been as a leader, and now captain," said Morgan.
“I didn’t speak to Ben much, other than before the series, but he dug us out of a hole coming back from injury early.
“In every game, he gave guys the opportunity at different stages to learn more about themselves as players, and he looked at the big picture long-term rather than throwing himself in at every opportunity. The feedback is that it went really well, and it was a great exercise.”