Eoin Morgan hopes England have established a ‘new normal’ after again overpowering Australia to put themselves on the verge of an unprecedented 5-0 one-day international whitewash of their Ashes rivals.
England turned a record Chester-le-Street run-chase of 310 for eight into a formality, with six wickets and more than five overs to spare, after Jason Roy (101) hit his second hundred in under a week.
He and Jonny Bairstow (79) shared their fifth century opening stand in this format – more than any others for England – and kept up an unstoppable barrage of boundaries to put on 174 together in just 23.4 overs.
Australia’s more conservative approach yielded successive century partnerships too as both Aaron Finch (100) and Shaun Marsh (101) reached three figures.
But even after Roy and Bairstow departed in quick succession, Jos Buttler (54no) took over with a 28-ball half-century to hasten England to a 4-0 lead with one match to play at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Asked for his reaction to the openers’ superlative batting, Morgan said: “If it does become the ‘normal’, that would be awesome – because it creates an unbelievable tone at the top of the order.
“I think the form the two guys are in is phenomenal. I think we’ve found a new gear, or a new level of intensity.”
Number three Alex Hales has admitted himself he may struggle to hold his place, despite his 147 in Tuesday’s world-record 481 for six at Trent Bridge, once key all-rounder Ben Stokes is fit again.
Morgan added: “I’m glad we’re spoiled for guys in form at the moment, because I’ve been in teams where (those) next in or fighting for places can’t get a run. This is a very privileged position to be in.”
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) June 21, 2018
England stopped Australia’s batsmen dominating, notably when Joe Root got through an unexpected 10 overs of his part-time off-spin at a cost of just 44 runs.
Morgan said: “We didn’t take wickets, which is an area we hope to improve, but we certainly controlled the run-rate.
“We always kept Australia within our grasp, certainly until the last eight to 10 overs when they were in position to get away from us.
“We’ve played that sort of cricket in the past, and know it falls on a couple of guys to do really well – or else it can go badly – and Dave [Willey] stepped up to the plate and bowled really well.”
Morgan refused to compare Australia’s batting, however, with England’s at the last World Cup in 2015 – when they suffered an early exit and Michael Clarke’s hosts were champions.
“That’s very disrespectful,” he said. “No, I don’t agree with that.
“[Australia captain] Tim (Paine) thought they were 30 or 40 short. In 2015, we were always 70 or 80 short – and in some cases, 200!”
Alex Hales has banked an unforgettable day at Trent Bridge, but knows it has changed nothing yet about his fringe status in England‘s record-breaking team. Hales used that description himself as he acknowledged on the eve of his brilliant 147 on his home ground that his hold on a top-order spot has become tenuous.
He went on to help England wrap up series victory over Australia thanks to a new world record one-day international total of 481-6.
Yet afterwards, even in the glow of his man-of-the-match contribution to a 242-run trouncing of England’s age-old Ashes rivals, he insisted the situation remains as it was.
Hales knows that the brilliant form of England’s two incumbent openers Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow means they have moved ahead of him in the pecking order – and that when key all-rounder Ben Stokes returns soon from his hamstring injury, someone will have to drop out.
He could hardly have stated a more compelling case for continued inclusion at number three than with his 16 fours and five sixes from 92 balls – but there again Bairstow, with just one boundary fewer from the same number of deliveries in his 139, and Roy (82) were hardly slouches either in Nottingham.
Alex Hales (84* off 52) probably doesn't get into England's strongest side at the moment.— Dave Tickner (@tickerscricket) June 19, 2018
“To get a score like that at my home ground and get the record score is one of the days I’ll never forget in my life,” said Hales.
“(But) I don’t think my situation has changed much since [before the match] in terms of those two guys being ahead of me. You’ve got Jonny, who’s got four hundreds in six games – and Jason, when in form, is one of the best players in the world. The situation stays the same for me.
“I need to keep knocking on the door and scoring as many runs as I can. (This) was one step towards that.”
Hales’ claims are obvious nonetheless.
“It’s a nice problem for the selectors and the coaches to have – a squad as strong as we are at the moment, with the depth we’ve got, and guys not even in the 15 who are knocking on the door. It’s healthy competition, and keeps everybody striving to improve.”
MAKE WAY FOR STOKES
Stokes is set to rejoin the squad soon to continue his recovery from a torn left hamstring, and Hales is under no illusion about anyone keeping England’s habitual all-round match-winner out of the team once he is fit.
“I think that’s the situation I’m in,” he added.
“It’s almost like what Jonny was in for a couple of years. Every time he got a chance, he scored a lot of runs. Every opportunity I get is going to be gold dust moving forward. Stokesy’s obviously going to slot back in – he’s one of the best all-rounders in the world. (So) I think it’s three of us fighting for two spots currently.”
A sustained run of form will still keep Hales bang in the reckoning for next year’s home World Cup campaign.
“Whether or not that changes… a lot can change in a year’s time, as we’ve seen,” added the 29-year-old. “I’m just trying to stay confident and see what happens.”
Tammy Beaumont smashed a brilliant 116 as England women set a new record for the highest-ever women’s international Twenty20 score against South Africa at Taunton.
Danni Wyatt helped Beaumont put on 147 for the opening wicket with 56 as England piled up 250-3 to overhaul New Zealand’s 216-1, which was only set in the morning on the same ground against the same opponents in the tri-series.
Beaumont brought up three figures in just 47 balls and struck 15 fours and two sixes before she was caught and bowled by Stacy Lacky to end her 52-ball knock that was her third consecutive ton in all formats.
Katherine Brunt was promoted up the order and responded by striking a scintillating unbeaten 42 from just 16 balls.
Earlier, White Ferns captain Suzie Bates top-scored with 124 not out off 66 balls against a beleaguered South African attack.
New Zealand’s total surpassed Australia’s 209-4 made against England in Mumbai in March.