Eoin Morgan defended Ian Bell’s understated role as he shared a record-breaking opening stand for England in World Cups, describing his stand of 172 in 30.1 overs with Moeen Ali as “a perfect platform”, reports ESPN. As Moeen played freely for a second ODI hundred, Bell was more circumspect, needing 85 balls for his 54, but nevertheless England were able to point at a decisive victory as they saw off Scotland by 119 runs in Christchurch.
“There were a lot of positives to take from today: Ian’s innings is one of them,” Morgan said. “I thought he and Moeen faced reasonably tough circumstances. The ball held up a bit and nipped around early, and I thought they held their composure really well.”
It was Moeen, nevertheless, who introduced the first signs of optimism to England’s World Cup campaign with a second ODI century to follow the one he made in Sri Lanka before Christmas. His hundred came only four balls after Bell had reached 50.
“Moeen struck the ball really well, as he has been, and for him to set a platform like that was absolutely ideal,” Morgan said. “I rate him really highly. He’s an allrounder which we haven’t had for a very long time, somebody who opens the batting and plays in the fashion that he does, and the purchase he gets on the ball. I think we’re very privileged to have him.”
England had designs on a total approaching 350 when Bell was the first batsman to fall, but they were encouraged into a more restrained approach as wickets tumbled. Morgan put that down to a surface, also used during West Indies’ defeat of Pakistan, lacking in pace.
“You always think you should get more than you should, but having been there for the last five overs, the wicket slowed up the older the ball got, and with the wind as well, it made it difficult to find the boundary,” Morgan said. “That gave me more confidence that 300 was an above par score.”
England’s World Cup challenge has been rubbished after heavy defeats against Australia and New Zealand – the two toughest sides in the group, but Morgan claimed that pessimism had not taken hold in the dressing room.
“I don’t think there’s ever a state of panic. Obviously we had two hard games, and the fact we didn’t perform was the most disappointing, but a win just puts things a little more at ease, and it gives guys a little bit of confidence. Even the guys who didn’t perform today, talking to other guys who have had a little bit of success today will be good for them.”
Morgan justified England’s decision to retain an unchanged side against Scotland, in defiance of two thumping defeats, on the grounds that they had played too poorly to enable any conclusions about the make-up of the side.
“We came to the conclusion that we haven’t performed in the first two games, so you couldn’t really argue the balance of the side was wrong because we hadn’t seen guys perform. I was very confident going into the first two games that we had the strongest side to win those games, so reinforcing our confidence going with the same team today was very important.
“In your head, I think you can be guilty of building up a tournament, of having to play your best throughout the tournament and hammer every side in order to win it, but the games that I’ve watched haven’t shown that at all. Strong sides have been beaten. It’s about getting points on the board; how you do it doesn’t really matter.”