Eoin Morgan off to a flying start as England crush amateurs

England beat ACT Invational XI by 216 runs

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The Independent Online

England will undoubtedly have sterner tests than this to come – beating up a bricklayer and his mates is not a perfect gauge of how they will go in the World Cup – but the post-Alastair Cook era began with a bang from the leading batsmen as they brushed aside an ACT XI with ease.

Cook was ditched as  captain for his tortoise-like batting at the top of the order and Nos 1 to 4, Moeen Ali, Ian Bell, James Taylor and Joe Root, pulled off their best hare impressions in Canberra, all making scores of 50-plus in quick time.

England are at the beginning of a three-month tour that involves a triangular series against Australia and India before the World Cup, and they could hardly have asked for a simpler assignment to kick it off. They polished off their part-time opponents by a bruising margin of 216 runs, skittling them for 148 after having posted 364 for 6.

The ACT side represent a scalp as modest as they come, with only one fully-contracted state player, New South Wales’ Scott Henry, joined by team-mates whose day jobs include teaching, finance and bricklaying. But England were still glad to see five of their top six bank half-centuries, with Ravi Bopara joining the fun late on with a fine knock that included five sixes and four fours.

James Tredwell, who took 3 for 11 in four overs, summed up the day’s events nicely at the close. “First and foremost, playing these warm-up games of 13 or 14 a side, you want to get everyone a good go and clearly we’ve done that,” he said. “Seven or eight of the batters got good time in the middle, there were five fifties and all the bowlers got a few overs under their belt so it’s a good way to start the tour.”

The match also provided a winning start for the new captain Eoin Morgan. However, things will get significantly harder tomorrow, also at the Manuka Oval, when England take on a strong Prime Minister’s XI which will include Australia World Cup players Glenn Maxwell and Pat Cummins and will be captained by the Australia Test opener Chris Rogers.

So did Morgan pull off tactical tricks the likes of which have never before been witnessed on a cricket field? Not really according to Tredwell. “[Morgan’s captaincy] wasn’t a great deal different to be honest,” Tredwell said, “but obviously we weren’t put under as much pressure as we may be on some other games on the tour. That will be the time we’ll see some differences I’m sure. But it was a great way to get going and we take that into tomorrow’s game. We’ve started well and we want to carry that through to the next game.”

As for his own performance, Tredwell found himself in the unusual position of being removed from the attack for being too successful. With England trying to get plenty of overs into their seamers, his initial return of 3 for 0 in two overs was considered by Morgan to be too penetrative.

“Sometimes it can be lovely to bowl spin here and clearly it was quite nice today,” he said. “I got a couple of early wickets and had to be dragged out of the attack. I was ruining the game!”

England still managed to get seven overs apiece out of James Anderson and Stuart Broad, the strike bowlers who missed the recent tour of Sri Lanka with knee injuries and their economy rates were good, too. Not so for Chris Jordan, however, who went for 34 runs in four overs despite the limited opposition.

They will be monitored today for signs of wear and tear before tomorrow’s fixture, but Tredwell was encouraged by their efforts. “Clearly both of them are feeling their way back in to a degree, but they both bowled pretty nicely,” he said. “The wicket did slow up a little bit so it was a good chance for them to get their one-day skills out, a few slower balls and things like that. All our bowlers shaped up pretty well.”