London: England captain Eoin Morgan believes the tournament hosts have done everything they possibly could to get themselves ready for a tilt at the World Cup.
One-day cricket has long been the poor relation of the international game in England in terms of status.
But a humiliating first round exit at the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand — with Morgan made captain only shortly before the tournament in place of axed Test skipper Alastair Cook — prompted a major rethink.
Now England, bidding to lift the men’s trophy for the first time, head into a tournament starting on May 30 as the world’s number one ranked side in ODI cricket.
“Absolutely no regrets, we’re positioned in the best possible place at the moment,” Morgan told reporters at the launch of England’s World Cup kit in London on Tuesday — just hours after they unveiled their 15-man squad for the 50-over showpiece event.
Since the 2015 World Cup England have twice set a new record for the highest total in an ODI innings — 444 for three against Pakistan at Trent Bridge in 2016 and 481 for six against reigning world champions Australia, at the same venue, last year.
“Our exceptional days are better than we could have imagined — the world records etc — I could never have seen those at the start of 2015,” said middle-order batsman Morgan.
“That expectation has shifted with level of performance.”
And the former Ireland international believes England can cope with the increased pressure to deliver a title-winning run.
– ‘Inspire next generation’ –
“It’s a huge opportunity, we’re looking to express ourselves and continue to play as we have in the last four years.
“The other one is to inspire the next generation of cricketers to come into the game and pick up a ball and a bat, hopefully come out of the tournament worshipping one of the guys in our team.”
England wrapped a 4-0 home ODI series win against Pakistan on Sunday and Morgan would rather they were next playing their World Cup opener against South Africa — at The Oval on May 30 — than a warm-up match against reigning world champions Australia in Southampton on Saturday.
“We’d like to start playing tomorrow,” said Morgan.
“We’ve had some really good preparation against Pakistan, I don’t think could have gone better, chopping and changing. Everyone just wants to get on with the tournament.”
As widely forecast, Sussex fast bowler Jofra Archer — who only qualified for England in March and has played just three ODIs — edged out left-arm quick David Willey, a mainstay of the team, for a place in the World Cup squad.
Explaining Willey’s omission, Morgan said: “It’s simply because over the course of the tournament we need to cover all possible cases with the squad and the fact we have three frontline bowlers (Archer, Chris Woakes and Liam Plunkett) who all take the new ball affected that decision.”
Back-up spinner Joe Denly also missed out, with Morgan saying: “I spoke to Dave and Joe last night and obviously said longer term, with the length of the tournament we are likely to get injuries – they are next in line, no doubt about that.
“I still see them playing a part in our World Cup campaign.
“It is but a tough decision had to be made and hopefully the right one for the squad.”
As for Archer, Morgan said: “Jofra has come in and done exactly what he’s been doing for Sussex and other franchise teams around the world.
“I think he’s come on in the games he’s played. If he continues to improve throughout his career, he’s a very exciting prospect.”