Eoin Morgan: England 'continually monitoring different guys' for spots in T20 World Cup squad
Eoin Morgan does not expect pitches to be conducive to spin in the T20 World Cup in October-November, and feels there are still spots up for grabs in the England set-up despite the fact that they will not play another T20I before naming a provisional squad for the tournament in mid-September.
England have never bowled as many overs of spin in a T20I series outside of an ICC event as they did against Pakistan (28 in three games), and with the World Cup scheduled to be played in the UAE (some first-round matches will be hosted in Oman) immediately after the rescheduled IPL, there had been suggestions that playing on slow, spin-friendly pitches would serve them well for the tournament.
Morgan, however, suggested that venues in the UAE were used to a heavy load of games, and that based on his previous experiences playing there, spinners should not be expected to be significantly more effective than seamers.
"We know as a side and a squad how good we are when wickets are good to bat on," Morgan said on Tuesday night, after England beat Pakistan in their third T20I to seal the series 2-1. "We know our weakest point is when it's not so easy, and tonight, I don't think it was. There was a bit of an extreme circumstance where the ball turned a lot and was quite slow off the wicket [so the win was] extremely positive.
"Today, going in with a different-balanced side - not necessarily going in with two out-and-out spinners and making up overs with a couple of allrounders - if you add Ben Stokes into that to cover another allrounder's position, or Sam Curran, that presents a strong 12 or 13 within itself if we do play on wickets that turn a lot, [but] I am not anticipating that to happen. Having played in the UAE recently at the time of year that the World Cup is going to take place, the ball actually didn't turn a great deal.
"The IPL was played there after I can't remember what tournament when we were there last time around [in 2020] and the wicket was still fine, good, held together really well. The curators there did a great job. I don't think they will [spin]. They might, but I don't think they will. If you go IPL and then you have the very start of the World Cup in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Dubai as opposed to having it in Oman as well, that might play a part but I think they can host a lot of cricket. They've been used to it for a while."
Morgan also left the door open for players to make a late push for inclusion in the squad through performances in the Hundred, having previously suggested that Tymal Mills, the left-arm quick, could bowl himself into contention. He also suggested that the make-up of England's squad would depend on the venues they are due to play at, which are yet to be confirmed.
"It's going to be role-dependent," Morgan said. "Hopefully our fixtures and venues are announced before we have to announce the squad and then we can map out the roles that we might need in various different strongest XIs and then we can work back from there. If we end up playing all our games at Abu Dhabi, or all our games at Sharjah, it creates different challenges. If they're spread out, we'd need a more versatile squad.
"We want as many options as possible. We are continually monitoring different guys. There are certain players we look at that that could have avenues in: guys that do things differently, left-armers, guys that bowl at pace or have a huge impact on the game, predominantly hit boundaries with the bat. There is still opportunities for guys to do that in the Hundred, and have an outside chance."
England face several tough choices heading into the World Cup, not least since Liam Livingstone was named player of the series after furthering his case for inclusion in the starting XI. Dawid Malan, who is averaging 26.80 with a strike rate of 114.52 in T20Is this year following his 31 off 33 balls on Tuesday night, looks vulnerable as a result of Livingstone's success, but Morgan said he still saw Malan playing "a big role" for England.
"Just because he's had a quiet series doesn't mean he's not a good player," Morgan said. "He's done exceptional things for us over a long period of time. I think today's game, the way he played actually suited his game more than most. He's a guy that can take time and can go through the gears whereas actually, the majority of our team and the majority of our batting XI can't. So when the scores are a little bit lower, he doesn't have to push himself as much as he normally does or has done in an England shirt to date.
"Liam is a guy we have wanted to find more out about. He's certainly grown in stature, probably in the last year or so with his involvement in and around the group. When guys haven't had opportunities for a number of years, having been involved for a short period of time, we look at how they come back in: have they improved certain things? I think Liam has improved a huge amount, and would say that himself. Other guys like Saqib Mahmood have done the exact same."