We'll keep trump card Morgan up our sleeve, insists Broad despite England batting slump
20:17 GMT, 28 September 2012
If England are to overcome the odds and reach the World Twenty20 semi-finals they will need Eoin Morgan at the crease for as long as possible. Yet their trump card will again be held back in the must-win game against New Zealand.
Morgan was back to his brilliant best in Thursday's defeat by West Indies after a lean year but only had half of England's innings to attempt an improbable rescue act which fell tantalisingly short of a famous victory.
Now, with England all but out if they lose again, they will stick to the same policy of keeping Morgan up their sleeves even if they again lose early wickets against a New Zealand team who also lost their Super Eights opener.
In vain: Eoin Morgan starred against West Indies but England still lost
The problem, England insist, lies more with the fact that either Alex Hales or Craig Kieswetter has fallen too early in their last two games rather than not giving the Irishman enough time to weave his magic.
'Morgs has this amazing ability to find the boundaries when fielders are back which not everyone has,' said England captain Stuart Broad. 'He's not especially suited to piercing the infield when everyone is in. So the risk-reward for someone so valuable to our team might be too high for him to try to do that.
'Certainly if you lose him in those first six – and you're three down – you're in big trouble. So it was decided his skills would be best used in the middle overs. He showed how dangerous he can be but we just didn't quite set it up for him.'
It was Jonny Bairstow who came in ahead of Morgan against West Indies after Kieswetter and Luke Wright had fallen in the first over and it would be unfair to criticise a batsman who had to rebuild from nought for two.
But his innings of 18 from 29 balls, ended by a brilliant catch from Kieron Pollard when Bairstow looked as though he had struck his first six, left England with too much to do in their pursuit of 180 to win. Morgan was duly left high and dry on 71 from 36 balls with England 15 short of their target but if he had come in just one over earlier there is every chance England would have won.
Plenty to ponder: England captain Stuart Broad must re-energise his batsmen
The problem will not occur, according to
Broad, if England's openers do their job against a far from fearsome
New Zealand attack. 'Whoever takes the responsibility of going out there
and facing that new ball it's important they get through the first
over,' said Broad. 'It's about the realisation of players accepting we
can't lose wickets that early.
'Last night we watched the best striker of the ball in the world in Chris Gayle and he never goes from ball one, does he He has a little look, assesses the wicket, then explodes. I think we haven't got that quite right yet but it's important we do get that right against New Zealand.'
Kieswetter may have been England's man of the series against South Africa just ahead of their arrival here but clearly he is under some pressure to get it right now. He still seems to either block or go for bust with big shots and must find a 'get off the strike' option, as Broad put it earlier in this tournament. The way he got out to his second ball on Thursday with a wild slog was criminal.
The Kiwis may have taken Sri Lanka to a 'super over' after their tie at Pallekele in the first match in England's group but they really should not hold too much fear for England even if, in Brendon McCullum, they have one of the most successful and explosive batsmen in international Twenty20 cricket.
Kyle Mills and Jacob Oram have seen better days while even Dan Vettori, who has been a thorn in England's side since 1997, is not quite the force of old. There is no mystery about New Zealand and England simply must ensure they do not slip up against them otherwise they will need a near miracle to progress and this defence of their World Twenty20 crown will go down as another setback in a year that has had too many of them.