Morgan vows to play it his way after Cook backs England for World Cup
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England get one-day series against West Indies underway in Barbados today
Middlesex star and England captain Eoin Morgan has vowed to do things his own way as the clock counts down to the 2019 World Cup, but is happy for his predecessor, Sir Alastair Cook, to talk his side up as tournament favourites.
Cook was axed as skipper shortly before the 2015 World Cup, with Morgan hastily installed ahead of the competition in Australia and New Zealand.
It proved a disastrous campaign, but the Irishman has overseen a white-ball revolution in the intervening four years leaving England as world number one in the 50-over format.
Cook, speaking with 100 days to go until the competition begins, became the latest high-profile pundit to back England, noting they are “feared throughout the world” and tipping them not to repeat the sins of past editions.
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Morgan’s response came from Barbados, on the eve of the first one-day international against the West Indies, and he welcomed the plaudits.
“There’s a chance we’ll go in favourites, but we’ve spoken about it and don’t mind the tag,” said Morgan.
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“We’ve learned to be at ease with it in the last few series. It doesn’t really mean anything — you have to produce to be rewarded and have a bit of luck as well.
“To handle it my own way is first and foremost a priority and it’s something that I’ve done since I’ve been captain and will continue to do.
“Every series that we’ve played has almost been a rehearsal for the build-up for the big occasion so I can’t imagine anything is going to change.
“The reason we’re excited about it because we’ve been building to it for so long.”
Cook noted that England’s past errors include “major changes in key positions”, with his own dropping compounded by an 11th-hour change to the batting and bowling line-ups in 2015, but added: “This is not going to happen this time”.
With most of the 15 squad places effectively locked down and at least nine of the first choice XI pencilled in, the only likely wild card this time comes in the form of Jofra Archer.
The Barbados-born 23-year-old is a star of the global T20 franchise circuit and becomes available for England next month.
He represents either a tantalising late addition for the selectors or the potential for a familiar eve-of-tournament disruption and Morgan was careful not to fuel either fire.
“We have asked a lot of questions about ourselves over the last few years, so you’d think there will be no drastic changes like 2015,” he said.
“Probably one of the best attributes I have is to compartmentalise things, so until Jofra qualifies, he’s not really in our thoughts at the moment. The focus for us is on this series.”
While the main event of the white-ball calendar will understandably loom large over the Caribbean series — both teams are effectively fine-tuning their options over the next five games — Morgan was careful not to look too far ahead.
England’s Test side were upset 2-1 in the recent series and a repeat in the one-day format would not go down well.
“Expectations are are high in that everyone expects us to win but the manner in which we do will play out differently to how people expect,” Morgan added.
“The West Indies will be tough and everyone in our dressing room knows that. It’s not an easy place to come and win particularly when they have a lot of match winners.”