Thursday 29 September 2016

From David Clough, Press Association Sport England Cricket Reporter, Bloemfontein

Published 02/02/2016 | 20:46

From David Clough, Press Association Sport England Cricket Reporter, Bloemfontein

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Eoin Morgan's England are ready to take another big step in refining their white-ball expertise for forthcoming global tournaments.

England will begin a five-match one-day international series away to South Africa on Wednesday, with two Twenty20s to follow.

It is a tough assignment for an improving team, who have put last year's World Cup debacle truly behind them in the 10 months since with highly-encouraging performances at home and abroad.

South Africa away represents another significant examination of their skills and nous, with the ICC World Twenty20 in India starting next month and a Champions Trophy on home soil next year.

Morgan is enthused by performances up to and including series victories over Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates before Christmas.

But he knows South Africa, led by one of the world's outstanding batsmen AB de Villiers, will be a major challenge too.

"Any away tour is about learning on your feet as quickly as you can, and adapting to conditions," said the Irishman.

"One advantage we have had in this tour, more than before, is that there are more guys who were in the Test team - which is good.

"They have been here quite a bit and can share information, so learning on our feet is one massive objective.

"The other is the fact we have pushed our boundaries over the last eight months we have been together, (and it) is becoming the norm.

"The further we can do that and the longer we can prolong that I think the better the side we will be when it comes to international tournaments."

The 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand altered the perception of totals which are regularly possible - and England have tried, successfully so far, to move with the times since their early elimination.

"That is what we are striving to do," added Morgan.

"We are not quite there yet in terms of catching up with the World Cup teams that went out there and scored 300 on a regular basis - but we are making strides towards that."

England may have to make a last-minute decision on the availability of opener Jason Roy.

He was unable to bat at nets on Monday, because of a back spasm, and must do so on the eve of the first match at the Mangaung Oval if he is to prove his fitness.

Should he be absent, any one of James Taylor, Joe Root or Moeen Ali could go in first with Alex Hales.

mfl

Irish Independent

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