Edgbaston to Cardiff too much of an ask to adjust to

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Jun
15

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01:51

‘Don’t think there was any home advantage’ – Morgan

Eoin Morgan blamed a failure of the England batsmen to adapt to a Cardiff surface, which he said provided no home advantage, on being dumped out of the Champions Trophy by a rampant Pakistan.

England laboured to 211 all out in the face of another probing display from the Pakistan attack – this time missing the injured Mohammad Amir – before the target was knocked off with nearly 13 overs to spare. They had been handily placed on 128 for 2 in the 28th over when Joe Root fell to Shadab Khan, but the rest of the batting could barely hit the ball off the square.

England had played a group match on the ground against New Zealand. But this surface, being used for the second time in three days, was slower and lower, although England’s more hit-the-deck seamers were easier to score off than the skiddy quicks of Pakistan, who also managed to find a hint of reverse swing.

“I don’t think there was any home advantage,” Morgan said. “We knew that we were going to play on a used wicket at some stage in this tournament. Having watched the game against Sri Lanka, we actually didn’t think it was that bad. But certainly today, coming from Edgbaston, it was obviously a big jump in pace and bounce, and too much of an ask for us to adjust to, really.

“We left ourselves short adapting to conditions. It’s a big frustration because I think we’ve played some great cricket in this tournament and we weren’t anywhere close to it today. Credit to Pakistan, they played brilliantly.”

Pakistan’s captain Sarfraz Ahmed had a different view of the surface which they played on against Sri Lanka in a far more fraught run chase to earn the semi-final spot. “I think the pitch was very good. It was good for both teams. I think we played very well and that’s why we won.”

When Morgan was asked why Pakistan had found batting much easier during their chase, where they cantered along at nearly six an over, he said: “I think the explanation is they played two days ago on it.”

England’s struggle was highlighted by Ben Stokes’ boundary-less 64-ball stay, but Morgan believed the batsmen had tried everything to put the pressure back on the bowlers.

“Every partnership we had struggled to take initiative to the Pakistan bowlers,” he said. “I thought they bowled really well. They adjusted to conditions extremely well, and the wicket was obviously slow and low and hard to get away to start with. Every partnership we had started behind the rate, which put us under the pump a little bit, and none of our batsmen seemed to get away. I felt like we were trying to take a positive option against them, but the conditions didn’t allow us to do that.”

If, two years ago, in the aftermath of the woeful World Cup, a semi-final place in this tournament had been offered, it may have been accepted as a decent stepping stone in the rebuilding process. However, England’s advancements have been so significant that it now has to class as a significant opportunity lost to add to a trophy cabinet, whose only ICC silverware is the 2010 World T20.

Morgan, though, remained confident that this defeat would not stunt the development of the one-day side ahead of the 2019 World Cup, which will also be held in England. The team’s next ODI cricket will be a series against West Indies at the end of the season, which may see a few new faces blooded, before what could be a tough challenge against Australia after the Ashes.

“One of the huge contributing factors towards topping our table and playing very good cricket in the group stages is that we’ve stayed true to what we believe in and what’s worked for us the last couple of years, and I think that’s the continued formula for the future,” Morgan said. “I think it will have to evolve in whatever manner the game does over the next two years in the lead-in to the World Cup, but certainly, I think we’re moving in the right direction.”

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

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