The fact that England players do not participate in Indian Premier League and don't frequent Indian shores could go against them as they head into ICC World T20, captain Eoin Morgan said on Wednesday. Unlike other teams, most of the England players miss out on the IPL because the schedule clashes with their international and domestic calendar back home.
Among the England squad, only Morgan has played in IPL and apart from him, just three other players — Alex Hales, Jos Buttler and Joe Root have played in India before. Admitting that it is a big challenge, Morgan said the experience of playing in the subcontinent will be of some help.
"I think it becomes a different challenge (of not having enough experience of playing in IPL or India). Not only have most of our guys not played in the IPL, but most of them have not even travelled to India. But we have guys who have toured Sri Lanka a lot, been to Dubai and Abu Dhabi where we have enjoyed a little bit of success," Morgan said during a media conference in Mumbai on Thursday.
England last played in India three years ago when they lost the five-match ODI series 2-3. It's a no-brainer that India are a brute force at home. Morgan felt it's important not to overthink things going into the tournament and having a bit of naivety isn't a bad thing.
“I think sometimes having that experience – particularly in India where a lot of teams get hammered in unfamiliar conditions – can almost scar your perceptions and affect your play in the tournament. Having a little bit of naivety along with a huge amount of talent isn’t a bad thing.” Morgan added.
England cricket has gone through tough times in the last one year. In the 2015 World Cup they faced the ignominy of crashing out in the group stages after a defeat to Bangladesh. It's been an year to date that they lost to Bangladesh in Adelaide and it still haunts the team. However, of late, there has been a significant turnaround and we've seen a revitalised England post the World Cup.
"I think it will always be there (the bad memories of loss to Bangladesh). That World Cup in particular — not necessarily that day — but the whole trip was a huge learning curve for me. Particularly as a captain going through such a significant loss and such a low point in your career does make you enjoy any sort of success down the line. I think our turnaround has been quite significant considering the different attitude, the different group of players and, to a certain extent, the results that we have had."
England have tasted decent success in limited overs in recent times and Morgan said this has been the most expressive English outfit in a long time.
"The evidence is the significant totals we have put up. I think we’ve scored 350 twice or three times and we’ve definitely chased it down once. We scored 300 six consecutive times which is a huge step for us. We’ve scored 400 once. And it’s no coincidence. We have a lot of talent within the side, we encourage our players to go out and be as brash and aggressive as they can and take the game to the opposition."
On lack of experience in the spin-bowling department, Morgan said Adil Rasheed and Moeen Ali are two good options. England have also added uncapped Hampshire left-arm spinner Liam Dawson to the squad and the skipper said he will be used as the third spinner, depending on the conditions at that point in time.
"We have two very experienced spinners – Rashid in the last 12 months has progressed in leaps and bounds and Ali is our No.1 spinner in all forms of the game. The fact that he’s an allrounder makes him a luxury to have in the side," Morgan said.
"I suppose Liam’s would be our third spinner. It depends on what surfaces we come up against and potentially what opposition we come up against," he added.
England had a good run of form in limited-over internationals with an unbeaten streak of eight matches (seven wins and a tie) before they lost five on the trot in South Africa. Morgan, however, said that despite the recent losses, the team is really confident heading into the World T20.
“I’m reasonably confident about things", Morgan said. “Before the South Africa series we had a really good run ; we have a lot of talent and a lot of match-winners. “It didn’t necessarily happen in South Africa and one of the things after that trip that we talked about was, ‘Are we still playing in the right way? Are we being beaten in the right manner, doing the things we said we’d do?’ And I think we are. The attitude in the group is still of a really positive mindset and that’s very important coming into this tournament," he added.
Morgan however conceded that India were favourites going into the tournament. "I think the favourites for this tournament are India. Simply on the fact that they are very good in home conditions and they’ve had a rich run of form lately. I think outside of that, it’s a very open tournament."