Eoin Morgan has enjoyed England's dangerous training sessions
JOHANNESBURG – England’s training sessions at Newlands this week have been dangerous affairs.
The touring side’s players and staff have needed eyes at the back of their heads as the ‘range hitting’ practice has seen balls fly into the dressing-room and the stands at the venerable venue. While training has been hazardous it’s also been pleasing for the England captain Eoin Morgan.
His players look engaged, motivated and in form. “Training has been very exciting but also very dangerous,” Morgan remarked on Thursday. The players from both South Africa and England have been training in the centre of the ground, with nets that don’t having covering above the players' heads as is normally the case when practice takes place at the usual training facility.
And naturally, sportsmen being sportsmen, and with practicing the forward defence not as crucial as it would be for a Test match, after a while it becomes a competition to see who can hit the ball further. The way the nets are positioned at Newlands this week, means the batsmen can try and hit the ball into the dressing room, or maybe even break a few windows in the president’s suite.
It’ll be a more serious business for Morgan and Co. on Friday when the first T20 International against South Africa starts. England are big favourites; they are more experienced, most of their players are match-hardened in comparison with the majority of South Africa’s and there is greater depth in their squad than is the case for the hosts.
There is plenty of competition for spots in the starting team, which Morgan said on Thursday he couldn’t name yet. England’s 50-over world cup winning captain said he wanted to take another look at the Newlands pitch on Friday, which could determine the presence of two spinners or just one.
Where England have plenty of options is their batting, not just in the number of players they can choose, but even where they can bat in the order. “You need to try and figure out who are the best six or seven batsmen and then the challenge is putting them into roles that best suits the team but also give you the best chance of winning the game,” he said.
He expanded on that theme, saying that while winning was important for his side, they had half an eye on the T20 World Cup which will take place in India next year. “Winning would be great, but for us, given the luxury of players we have at our disposal it's more important that we get their roles right and they get comfortable within that, because if we manage to solve that the results will take care of themselves,” he explained.
That doesn’t mean he is taking the Proteas for granted. The two teams played a couple of very competitive series’ in South Africa earlier this year, with England emerging victorious in the T20 series, and sides drawing a One-Day International series.
“Everything points to this being an extremely competitive, hard-fought series.”
Eoin Morgan (capt), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonathan Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Reece Topley, Mark Wood.