By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) – Confidence levels are soaring so high in the England team that captain Eoin Morgan wishes the World Cup was starting tomorrow.
England named their 15-man squad on Tuesday in the wake of a 4-0 hammering of Pakistan that underlined their place as favourites for the tournament which starts on home soil next Thursday when they take on South Africa.
“We’d like to start playing tomorrow,” Morgan said at an event in east London to unveil England’s new light blue kit.
“We’ve had some really good prep against Pakistan, I don’t think it could have gone better.
“I’ve got absolutely no regrets. We’re positioned in the best possible place at the moment.”
England racked up three totals of 350 plus against Pakistan, playing the kind of attacking cricket that was unimaginable when they limped out of the 2015 World Cup at the group stage.
Morgan, who was drafted in as skipper just before the start of their ill-fated tournament four years ago, said a home World Cup was a massive chance for the players to write their names into English cricket folklore.
“The crowd will definitely be our 12th man. It’s a huge opportunity, we’re looking to go out and express ourselves and continue to play as we have in the last four years,” he said.
“We want to inspire the next generation of cricketers to come into the game and hopefully come out of the tournament worshipping one of the guys in our team.”
One of those could be Barbados-born fast bowler Jofra Archer who was named in the 15-man squad earlier on Tuesday despite having only made his one-day international debut this month.
“Jofra has come in and done exactly what he’s been doing for Sussex and other franchise teams around the world,” Morgan said of the 24-year-old whose pace England batsman Jos Buttler describes as “scary”.
“I think he’s come on in the games he’s played. He’s very young with a lot of cricket ahead and if he continues to improve throughout his career he’s a very exciting prospect.”
Archer’s inclusion was bad news for the unlucky David Willey but Morgan said hard decisions had to be made. Left-arm spinner Liam Dawson was also preferred ahead of Joe Denly as England made two voluntary changes from their provisional squad.
“They were extremely tough decisions,” Morgan said. “Joe and Dave missing out is extremely unfortunate.
“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 journey.”
England’s rise from flops four years ago to the world’s best one-day side, has even surprised Morgan under whose leadership England have twice smashed the ODI world record.
They scored 444-3 versus Pakistan in 2016 and topped that with 481-6 against Australia last year.
“Our exceptional days are better than we could have imagined,” he said. “I could never have seen those at the start of 2015. That expectation has shifted with the level of performance. But it’s also brought our worst performances up.”
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis)