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England must keep the pressure on India in the Twenty20 series, says Bob Willis

Bob Willis Posted 19th December 2012 view comments

Eoin Morgan is an impressive character who seems committed to passing on what he's learnt to the next players in line for England honours.

That's just as well because this week, in the absence of injured skipper Stuart Broad, he'll lead an inexperienced squad in two Twenty20 Internationals against an Indian side that, despite their recent Test disappointments, will start as hot favourites.

Eoin Morgan: averages 36 in t20 internationals, with a strike-rate of 132

Eoin Morgan: averages 36 in t20 internationals, with a strike-rate of 132

I suspect many Indian fans are busy brushing the 2-1 Test defeat under the carpet in the hope of vastly-better things in T20I and 50-over cricket, so it will be a major blow to them - and Indian cricket in general - if England can round off this section of the tour with victories in Pune and Mumbai.

Those guys who have been hanging around the edges of England's Test team in recent weeks without getting the opportunity to impress - Morgan included - will be desperately keen to lay down a marker ahead of a remarkably busy 2013.

I, for one, hope Jos Buttler gets an opportunity higher up the order in both t20 and 50-over cricket because he is a special talent.

Bob Willis
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I, for one, hope Jos Buttler gets an opportunity higher up the order in both T20I and 50-over cricket because he is a special talent. Too often he seems to go in for England in the 'kamikaze' role - either when England, batting first, need last-ditch runs or when the chase is as good as over and he effectively ends up giving his wicket away.

Rotation

Buttler has been added to England's ODI squad along with Chris Woakes after England decided to give James Anderson and Jonathan Trott the five-match series off.

The move is hardly surprising as rotation is now a fixed part of Team England's policy but I suspect the spotlight has fallen on Anderson in the wake of the injuries sustained by Broad and Steven Finn.

Clearly they don't want Anderson, the leader of their pack, to go the same way - and he was only due to play in the first two games anyway, so why risk him?

The plight of both Broad and Finn is definitely a worry as neither has had an extreme load of cricket since the end of last season.

Brief

Their absence - coupled to that of Anderson and Trott - is far from ideal for Ashley Giles, who will officially take charge of the one-day side from Andy Flower in January, given that he's been tasked with improving England's results.

On the flip side, Giles may find it easier to stamp his own footprint on a side that contains newer, younger players who are keen to impress and who don't believe they are in the side by right.

His brief is a tough one because, without saying so publicly, England's priority rightly remains Test match cricket.

Yes, they would like to do well in the other forms but their immediate target is to see off New Zealand away and at home and then beat Australia twice.

However, England may not get a chance to regain the No 1 Test status until 2015/16, which is when they next play South Africa away.

Options

So keep your eyes on England's fringe players in the coming weeks because there will be some interesting tussles that could have a bearing on the Ashes and beyond.

Morgan has been given a full central contract, would seem to have the edge in the middle order, but he faces stiff competition from Joe Root who has leapt above both Samit Patel and Jonny Bairstow in the pecking order, while Nick Compton has not made the opening berth his own as yet, despite performing well against India.

Tim Bresnan looks most vulnerable in the bowling department - his pace is well down since he underwent elbow surgery last year - and even with Finn and Broad struggling, England have other options with Graham Onions waiting in the wings.

I know Marcus Trescothick and Rob Key are very impressed with the progress made by Surrey duo Jade Dernbach and Stuart Meaker in one-day cricket, even if they don't necessarily feel that they are Test match potential yet.

Both possess tremendous skills in the one-day arena - they've had to learn pretty quickly at the Oval, where it's very easy to go at over six runs an over if you run up and bowl normally.

The shorter the game, the more important it seems to be to take pace off the ball, making spin bowling an integral part of limited overs cricket.

The coming year will clearly be an important year for James Tredwell, who is also taking over the captaincy at Kent; he's probably more effective in one-day cricket than the five-day game but Danny Briggs is young enough, at 21 years of age, to break into the Test arena in the fullness of time.

Watch the first Twenty20 International between India and England from 1pm on Thursday on Sky Sports 1 HD.

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