Eoin Morgan insists England won't mock Australia over sandpaper scandal during ODI series

The way Australia brought shame on themselves and the game in South Africa earlier this year would provide easy ammunition for an on-field war of words.

But captain Morgan insists there will be no cheap verbal shots in the five-match 50-over series, which starts at the Oval tomorrow.

In fact, Morgan is so happy to forge good relations with the Aussies that he has agreed to skipper Tim Paine’s request for a football-style mass handshake between the players.

It is the first time it has happened before a cricket international in this country but will not be repeated before the remaining four matches as it is a goodwill gesture only for the start of the series.

Morgan, 31, said: “I’m absolutely happy to go along with it. It doesn’t bother me.


"Australia are trying to turn around the image of the game in their country and we’re all for that. We want cricket to be as popular as ever.

“From our point of view, it will be service as usual on the field. We play cricket pretty hard and positively and aggressively and we’ll continue to.”

Morgan agreed the ball-tampering controversy could provide a rich seam of sledging fodder but, when asked if he intended to use it, he replied emphatically: “No.”

The Barmy Army have no plans to ridicule the Aussies and have composed no new songs reflect the downfall of the likes of David Warner and Steve Smith.

But it would a surprise if some derision doesn’t come from the crowd, especially once the booze starts flowing.

Barmy founder Paul Burnham said: “We want to forget about the sandpaper business – it was bad for cricket. So we’re not planning anything. But it might be different in the Ashes next summer when Warner and Smith will be back.”

Mo goes on attack

MOEEN ALI is refusing to compromise his attacking instincts despite being partly blamed for England’s defeat in Scotland.

All-rounder Moeen says he will continue to bat in an aggressive manner no matter what “negative people” saying.

Moeen dragged England from a desperate situation with an innings of 46 – but then lobbed a catch to long-on with 25 needed from 28 balls and three wickets in hand.

He insisted: “It’s all right when you hit them for six, great shot. I’d hit two or three for six. I’m going to stay true to myself and not worry about what people say. There are a lot of negative people around.

“Scotland played really well, we couldn’t stop them from scoring runs and they deserved to win.

“Being left out the Test side has made me realise you have to be true to yourself. I’d rather get dropped playing the way I want rather than playing the way people want me to play. So that’s what I’m going to do.

“I feel good in my game, batting and bowling. I’ll try to stick to my mindset and not let anyone change that.”

Test skipper Joe Root wants his players to be fitter than ever and Moeen denied suggestions he is reluctant to buy into the new policy.

He explained: “My fitness is all right, always decent, not great. Not the best, not the worst. I think cricket is a skill game anyway.

“There are worse than me in the squad. I’ve always been in the middle, that’s what I am, a middle man.”

Warner, Smith and Cameron Bancroft were all banned and coach Darren Lehmann quit after the Aussies tried to scuff the ball with sandpaper in Cape Town.

New coach Justin Langer and Paine have promised a more appealing era in which personal abuse of opponents is banned and the spirit of the game respected.

Morgan added: “I’m expecting a tough series. In terms of what they do on the field, I’ll only be able to tell you tomorrow. You can speculate as much as you like but the proof is in the actions.”

Paine is bracing himself for some stick from spectators but insists nothing will rile the Aussies into behaving badly.

He explained: “It’s something we’re expecting from the crowd. We’ve got to take it on board and enjoy where possible. It’s nothing we can control.

“We’ve spoken about what’s acceptable from our team and what people are saying from the outside doesn’t really matter.

“Internally, we know what’s right and what’s wrong and that’s what counts. We know how we want to be perceived by the Australian public and cricket public in general. But we’ll be judged solely on our actions.”

Despite conceding 371-5 to Scotland on Sunday, England are ready to field the same attack with the only change being wicketkeeper Jos Buttler, rested in Edinburgh, coming in for Sam Billings.

England (likely): Roy, Bairstow, Hales, Root, Morgan (capt), Buttler (wtk), Moeen, Willey, Plunkett, Rashid, Wood.

Australia (likely): Head, Short, Stoinis, S.Marsh, Maxwell, Finch, Paine (capt & wkt), Agar, Tye, Stanlake, K.Richardson.

 

 

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