Decision will be based on Abu Dhabi conditions as new opening combo prepares to step up
Morgan said that the decision as to who replaced Roy in the side would come down to conditions in Abu Dhabi, suggesting that they would lean towards an extra bowling option if they expect the pitch to be conducive to high-scoring, but would pick a batter if it looks like it will offer assistance for bowlers. It is understood that Wednesday’s game will be played on Pitch 7 at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, which was previously used for South Africa vs Bangladesh and Pakistan vs Namibia in Super 12s fixtures and offered good bounce for seamers on those occasions.
“Replacing him [Roy] with another bowler would mean that you’d have 28 genuine overs on the field, and a lot of options,” Morgan said at his pre-match press conference before England’s optional training session at ICC Academy in Dubai. “If you were to go with a batter, it would mean a like-for-like replacement.
“When we turn up and look at the wicket, depending if it’s a really good batting wicket or predicting if going to be a really good wicket, you might need the extra bit of bowling, and if it’s not, we might need an extra bit of batting.”
“Within the group, we’ve made a decision,” Morgan said. “I’m not willing to share that unfortunately but the balance of the side will be determined on how the wicket looks and how we match-up against the Black Caps.
“I don’t think it is [a difficult call to have made]. I think we’re blessed with guys who can bat at the top of the order and actually want to bat at the top of the order. If you look around the highest run-scorers, the big-name players, they all want to bat or are batting in the top three in every team.
“We’re lucky we have guys that queue up and want to bat in the top three, which is great because they want to go head-to-head with the big-name players in the tournament – they want to go head-to-head with the big-name bowlers in the opposition. I think we’re in a very lucky position that we have a number of guys to choose from.”
“If you look right from the very beginning of our selection process leading into the World Cup, we’ve got a number of big-name players missing from our squad and that’s continued both pre-tournament with Sam Curran and into the tournament with Jason Roy and Tymal Mills,” Morgan said. “Other guys have found something else within themselves to either try and fill that gap or contribute in a different way to the team.
“Like losing any of your experienced players, you can’t really replace that experience that Jason has: he’s played integral parts in our two previous World Cup campaigns. [But] of all the things we’ve done well throughout this tournament, probably our strongest point has been the resilience within our squad to be able to find a way to move forward and forge on.”
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98