Jonny Bairstow and Eoin Morgan © Getty Images
Jonny Bairstow and Eoin Morgan © Getty Images

England captain Eoin Morgan hinted that Jonny Bairstow could replace the woefully out-of-form Jason Roy for the ICC Champions Trophy semi-final against Pakistan at Cardiff on Wednesday. Morgan insisted he would have “no worries” about Bairstow opening — something he has not done in international cricket.  Morgan did not confirm his XI on the eve of the clash  but said there was “a chance we could make a change”. Surrey opener Roy has averaged just 6.37 from eight ODI innings this season, with a mere two double-figure scores. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: ENG vs PAK, Champions Trophy 2017

“There’s a chance we could make a change. Obviously, [we] won’t announce the team until the toss, but there’s a chance there could be a change. I mentioned after the last game that we are getting to the business end of the tournament and we need to produce results. So it’s important that we get our best,” said Morgan in the pre-match press conference.

Roy wasn’t seen much during the practice session while Bairstow was seen knocking in the nets. Reacting to this, Morgan expressed, “Jonny’s qualities are — I believe he’s a fantastic batsman. I think his best attribute, certainly in white ball cricket over the last year and a half, has been his relentless attitude to score runs regardless of the situation. When you have guys sitting on the sideline, they can get a little bit upset, and that can affect their performance when the actual chance comes along, but that doesn’t seem to affect Jonny.”

“One innings he did play for us which won us a series was against New Zealand in sort of a match-winning knock up at Durham last year — actually, two years ago, and that sort of sums him up. He came from playing in Yorkshire to coming straight into the squad, having played no part in the series, and came in and produced a match-winning knock. So I think his all-around ability is as good as we have in this squad. But like I’ve mentioned before, it’s a very difficult team to get into, and you’ve just got to wait for that chance,” Morgan added.

When asked about having confidence in Bairstow for opening the batting, who has done extremely well for Yorkshire, Morgan said, “I’d have no worries if he has to open the batting. I certainly believe we’re in a good position at the moment as a batting unit, and if Jonny does get the opportunity, I’m sure he’ll take it with both hands.”

After these series of statements, Morgan still cleared that he is yet to finalise for the opening slot and has not changed his mind over Roy by saying, “Who says I’ve changed my mind? You know, I back all my players. I see the best in them, and I believe in them a huge amount, and every one of the selectors does, every one of the back room staff does, and the players, obviously. Getting to this stage of the tournament, we need results, and if that means somebody misses out, it is unfortunate, but for the team’s sake, we need to get results. We want to win this tournament.”

It has been a well-known policy that Morgan keeps faith with players even if they are out of form. The skipper is looking forward to keep the same further irrespective of the changes in next game. “We have kept the same policy for two years now. If somebody does get left out, they’re not going to be far from our plans. They’re certainly going to be in the same group of players gearing towards the 2019 World Cup.”

“Certainly, in white ball cricket, we have a collective group that I don’t see us venturing that far out of, maybe three, four more players, towards that World Cup because we need to get experience under the guys’ belts. We’ve had a little bit of success, and we’ve played the right brand of cricket, but getting games under guys’ belts in order to win a World Cup is very important because, when you get to the latter stages of a World Cup, you need to have, say, 100 games under your belt in order to produce your best at that stage, added Morgan.

When asked about Pakistan’s impressive bowling attack, Morgan assures of having England’s own plan against them. “Pakistan are a very strong bowling line-up. I suppose they have variation, but certainly, we do have plans against all of them. We’ve had plans for the last — since the last series that we played against them, last two series, home and away. So yeah,” Morgan said.

Morgan further opened up on their last meeting in ODIs, which happened at Cardiff last year. England lost that match and Pakistan averted a 4-1 whitewash. “I think the impact of that series was 4-1. Obviously, the result that came here was disappointing for us. I did not think we performed well that day. Pakistan outplayed us. Obviously, on their day, they can beat any team in the world, and you’ve just sort of touched on it, that they have the ability to beat the number 1 ranked side, and on their day, they’re very dangerous. A lot of what we do well is about focusing on ourselves.”

Morgan then confirmed about the venue being full house when they clash against Pakistan in the semi-final by adding, ” Cardiff’s always been a very good venue for us. The last game, we had great support. We had a full house, and everybody seems to get right behind us. So hopefully tomorrow is sold out as well. Where is the empty seats? I’ve been told it’s a full house. So I don’t know.”

The match will take place on the used pitch at Cardiff, to which Morgan has no issues and ready for the contest. “We’re comfortable with a used wicket, but the nature of this tournament is that the further the tournament goes on, the more you play on used pitches. We’ve come up against it before. We’ve raised this before the tournament started with the team, the challenges that we might have to come up against, and it is one of them. I think the wicket that we played against New Zealand was as good as a used pitch. The grass was shaved off it, and it was quite challenging. But such is the nature of a hard tournament. You have to come up against different conditions.”

England are the only team with 100 per cent record in the tournament. Two more wins, and England will win a global 50-over event for the first time. Reacting to this, Morgan said, “I’m very encouraged by the way we’ve played so far. You know, part of playing the way we have before we came into the tournament was obviously trying to produce it in what is a very tough tournament and a tournament you need to start really well in, and I think we’ve started brilliantly. I hope we have not played our best cricket yet. I hope we play tomorrow and hopefully get through. But firmly focus on tomorrow.”

Morgan finally ended it by expressing his views on toss for this match and concluded, “I’d rather lose the toss. I’m not sure. Honestly not sure. Because it is a used wicket, because it’s an early start draws different factors. If the weather is as good as it is supposed to be, yeah, I am not sure. We’ll have to turn up tomorrow and see how dry the wicket is.”