Eoin Morgan blames England's World Cup loss to Australia on batting
"What we were doing didn't bring rewards. We didn't take advantage of conditions because we didn't take wickets, but I thought we bowled alright"
Last Updated: 26/06/19 1:25pm
Eoin Morgan refused to blame England's second straight World Cup defeat on his bowlers, despite Australia's openers putting on a century stand in testing conditions for batsmen on their way to a 64-run win.
England's bowlers were accused of bowling a bit too short and not making the most of the green, seamer-friendly surface at Lord's after Morgan won the toss and inserted Australia.
Aaron Finch and David Warner put on an opening partnership of 123, with the former kicking on to a fine hundred. England, by way of contrast, crumbled to 26-3 in reply to Australia's 285-7 in the face of fine opening spells from Jason Behrendorff (5-44) and Mitchell Starc (4-43).
England ultimately crumbled to 221 all out in 44.4 overs, despite Ben Stokes' best efforts as he scored 89, and that's were Morgan placed the blame when asked where things wrong for his team.
"With the batting," Morgan told Sky Sports. "I thought we bowled really well, early on we didn't exactly have the rub of the green - made them play and miss a lot - and just didn't manage to take any wickets, which Australia took advantage of with a very substantial opening partnership.
"Finch then goes on and gets a match-winning hundred. But at the back-end, we bowled really, really well. For a lot of the game, Australia looked like they were going to go on and get 330, 340, so to restrict them to 280 was brilliant.
"Australia try to swing the ball a lot, while we don't. We try to nip the ball, which probably contributes to those statistics.
"What we were doing didn't bring rewards, but I thought we actually bowled well. We didn't take advantage of conditions because we didn't take wickets, but I thought we bowled alright."
England were accused of being a bit passive with the bat in their defeat to Sri Lanka on Friday, when failing to chase down 233, but Morgan doesn't believe they veered too far to the other extreme against Australia.
"I wouldn't say we overdid it," Morgan added. "The wicket was quite challenging, and being 20-3 is a big setback, as then Australia can dictate how they want to bowl at you. It becomes difficult to counter-attack.
"All the feedback from the batsmen was that it was hard to start. We saw that in the first innings, when Finch at no stage looked like he was going to take the game away from us.
"I think the basics with the bat has hurt us today. We failed to get starts, produce substantial partnerships. Ben [Stokes] had a really good day, so that's a positive.
"When the wicket isn't as batter-friendly, it comes back to the basics. It comes back to the traditional way of playing, as opposed to the free-flowing game - which is our A game.
"It is a little bit tougher for us to adapt to, we have found that over the years, we have got better at it and hopefully we will get better at it over the tournament."
England now have two games left to play - against India and New Zealand, both teams currently unbeaten - and Morgan's men need to win both to guarantee qualification to the semi-finals, otherwise they rely on results elsewhere to go their way.
"We control our own destiny," Morgan said. "If we win the two games, we go through. If we win the one game, we've still got a chance of going through.
"We'll take each game as it comes. India and New Zealand are two very tough sides, but hopefully we'll produced good enough performances to win one, if not two.
"Over the years, when we have lost games, we have naturally turned things around quite quickly - losing two on the bounce hasn't happened a lot - but keeping it as simple as possible moving forward from here is the best option to go with. Hopefully that's what we will do.
"We control everything going forward, we're not reliant on other fixtures or other results yet. If we can go in with the attitude that it's an opportunity to go through to the semi-final of a World Cup, that's the way forward."
Speaking after the game, Sky Sports' Nasser Hussain questioned Morgan's support of his bowlers, suggesting that they could, and should, have pitched the ball up more in the early exchanges.
"I thought it was a little bit odd - maybe it was a captain backing up his bowlers - that Morgan said he thought they bowled well but just went past the edge on a number of occasions.
"Well, the reason they went past the edge on a number of occasions was because they were too short.
"You could argue that is down to the style of bowlers - Jofra Archer is hit the deck, Mark Wood, and even Chris Woakes is a little. Their left-armers are swing, pitch-it-up bowlers.
"Sure, they're a different style, but those three have been around long enough to know to go that bit fuller in these conditions."
With regards to England's hopes of still qualifying for the semi-finals with wins in their final two games, Hussain has called for "smarter cricket" from the hosts.
"England are finding out the difference between tournament play and bilateral play," Hussain added. "I spoke to Ricky Pointing yesterday - this is a guy who knows; 29 World Cup games as captain, he lost two of them.
"He said, in a bilateral series, you have five games on the bounce against whoever, pretty much the same opposition, same bowlers, similar pitches and you can go bang, bang, bang - nothing really needs to change.
"Suddenly in a tournament, you are playing different opposition, with different challenges, on different surfaces and you have to be smart and adapt.
"Australia were smarter today. They selected better, were smart at the top with both bat and ball. England weren't quite smart enough.
"They are no less skilful a side, they are just not switching on and being smart when they need to be."
Watch England's next game against India at Edgbaston, live on Sky Sports Cricket World Cup (404) from 10am on Sunday.