England captain Eoin Morgan says Australia ‘just favourites’ ahead of T20 series

Eoin Morgan is delighted to be able to select some of England’s World Cup winners again but feels Australia are favourites to win the white-ball series which starts on Friday.

The first of three Twenty20 internationals takes place at the Ageas Bowl before both squads head to Emirates Old Trafford later this month for three one-dayers.

While England have welcomed back Jos Buttler, Jofra Archer and Mark Wood after they were part of the bio-secure Test bubble, Jason Roy and Ben Stokes remain absent.

It means Australia, who are number one in the T20 rankings, go into the series with the edge after bringing a group of 21 players for both formats.

England beat Australia by eight wickets in the 2019 World Cup semi-finals in the last white-ball encounter between the two sides
England beat Australia by eight wickets in the 2019 World Cup semi-finals in the last white-ball encounter between the two sides

“They have their strongest squad here so will probably be putting out their best XI. If you are to go on that, I’d say they are probably just favourites,” Morgan said.

“For the first time this summer we are seeing the majority of our best team on the park and that’s great.

“Bar injury and absent players, which is only a couple, we are at full strength and that is a nice place to be every now and then.

“We don’t have to pick our best XI every series that we play because we can’t put all our eggs in one basket. We need 16 or 17 players in the lead up to World Cup selection all vying for selection in the best 15.”

England’s captain revealed Buttler would open alongside Jonny Bairstow on Friday with Jason Roy still unavailable due to a side strain.

He refused to confirm who out of Dawid Malan or Tom Banton would bat at three after the duo impressed in the drawn series with Pakistan.

Morgan added: “Jos will open with Jonny tomorrow. Like I have said before, we will continue with this until we feel the need (to change) or that it’s not working.

“We feel that Jason, Jonny and Jos are three of our greatest ever white-ball players. They are unbelievable strikers of the ball and batsmen who you do not want to bowl against.”

There is room for manoeuvre with Morgan discussing the need for England to “find a middle to lower-order batter that can come in and play in an aggressive manner from ball one” ahead of the 2021 T20 World Cup in India.

He admitted that could be Buttler but stressed at the moment they are eager for the wicketkeeper to face as many balls as possible to increase his influence on proceedings.

Joe Root again missed out on the England squad in the sprint format but has been given the opportunity to boost his cause by playing for Yorkshire and David Willey is to join him in the White Rose team.

Morgan echoed the sentiments of national selector Ed Smith by insisting the Test captain has a future in T20 cricket.

“Yes we have had that conversation with Joe and he certainly does have a future,” England’s white-ball skipper confirmed.

“The conversation was surrounding Joe not getting in the best XI at the moment. We didn’t want to carry him round and him not play any cricket.

“Joe wants to play T20 cricket and put his best case forwards, particularly when he doesn’t have a lot of opportunity to go back to Yorkshire and play T20 cricket. We felt it was a really good opportunity for him to do that.”

Root reaches another fifty, this time off 35 balls with six fours. Superb. He now has 52 with three overs remaining – @YorkshireCCC 160-3 #OneRose

— Yorkshire CCC (@YorkshireCCC) August 31, 2020

Friday could see seamer Archer pull on England’s white-ball colours for the first time since he helped secure World Cup glory at Lord’s in 2019.

Due to his increased Test commitments, the paceman has not played for his country in T20 or one-day cricket since the clash with New Zealand last July.

“It’s great to have him back,” Morgan said of Archer. “He is obviously one of our match-winners and to have another in your team is great, he is a huge asset.

“We need to manage the level of expectation of what he produces in the series. He has played a lot during the summer.

“He is very exciting about playing in the series, but we saw at Old Trafford guys can take a little bit of time to get into their rhythm.”