Eoin Morgan confirms England’s opening batsmen: The English captain opened up on fielding the best possible XI for the first T20I.

Despite the visitors not having won a T20I series in England, England captain Eoin Morgan believes that Australia are the favourites ahead of the first T20I to be played tomorrow at the Ageas Bowl.

“Probably Australia. [They] have their strongest squad here so they’ll be putting out their best XI. So, if you’re to go on that I’d probably say they’re just favourites,” Morgan told reporters on the eve of the match.

While the 33-year old player talked about Australia fielding their strongest XI, even England will play with their first-choice XI for the first time in a limited-overs match this summer.

“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,” Morgan said.

The other two players who would have otherwise featured in tomorrow’s match but won’t be playing now are opening batsman Jason Roy (misses due to left side strain) and all-rounder Ben Stokes (family reasons).

Eoin Morgan confirms England’s opening batsmen for Southampton T20I

While England are bolstered by the addition of wicket-keeper batsman Jos Buttler and fast bowlers in Jofra Archer and Mark Wood for the first T20I, Morgan will have to take a couple of tough decision to accommodate these players.

Being asked about England’s opening batsmen, Morgan didn’t hesitate from answering that Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler will face the new ball for England tomorrow.

Morgan’s response means that England’s highest run-scorer (137 runs at an average of 45.66 and a strike rate of 153.93) from the last series in Tom Banton will either drop down to No. 3 or not play at all.

“Yes, he [Jos Buttler] will [open], with Jonny [Bairstow]. Like I’ve said before, we will continue with this until we feel the need that it’s not working.

“We feel that Jason [Roy], Jonny and Jos are three of our greatest-ever white-ball players – unbelievable strikers of the ball, batsmen you do not want to bowl against – so if one out of the three of them gets going past the first six overs of the powerplay and into the middle overs, it puts us in a really strong position for the last 14.

“But, trying to get the best out of Jos, at the moment we feel the more balls he faces, the more influence he can have on the game. If it gets to fine-tuning things down the line and that hasn’t necessarily worked out, we can always fall back on Jos in the middle order,” Morgan added.

While Banton has opened the batting in each of his six T20I innings so far, Buttler has only opened in nine out of 69 T20Is – scoring 338 runs at an average and strike rate of 42.25 and 162.50.

However, it is his performance as an opening batsman in the Indian Premier League which has forced England to open with him in T20Is. Since the start of 2017, Buttler has scored 1,131 runs at an average of 40.39 and a strike rate of 153.88 in 31 IPL matches as an opener.

Speaking of Bairstow, while the 30-year old player is an established opener in ODIs, he hasn’t delivered according to his potential in T20Is. In 10 appearances at the highest level as an opener, Bairstow has managed 253 runs at an average of 25.30 and a strike rate of 152.40.


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