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England’s Eoin Morgan happy with ugly win over Australia after Scotland shock

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It might not have been the prettiest win but Eoin Morgan declared England’s opening three-wicket victory over Australia as useful preparation for the World Cup given not every match in next summer’s tournament will be a slugfest.

After the bowling attack recovered from their mauling from Scotland by rolling Australia for 214 on an Oval pitch offering plenty more runs, with Moeen Ali’s off breaks claiming three for 43, a stroll for England’s muscular batting lineup appeared likely.

Instead it needed David Willey to see England home with a career-best unbeaten 35, and Liam Plunkett for company at No 9, following a middle-order wobble. Morgan, who had earlier top-scored with 69, nevertheless viewed the crawl to the target as a handy workout.

He said: “The most important thing is that we did get the win. Before the Scotland game I mentioned how going into the World Cup and trying to replicate tournament cricket is getting wins when you don’t necessarily play well or wake up and don’t have a great day.

“But finding a way to get over the line was important. We did a really good job of it. Our bowlers stood up. Mo was brilliant but well-supported and we created opportunities, which built pressure on Australia.

“We used a lot of spin in the winter against Australia in Australia,” added Morgan. “Different scenarios might change things. But when the guys are bowling as well as they have today, I think more than likely we’ll probably go with that balance. With the bat we were below par but managed to get over the line. It’s a big positive to take, because that’s a characteristic we’re going to need.”

Morgan’s opposite number, Tim Paine, bemoaned a collective failure by his top five but fired back an icy “no” when asked if there was any resentment towards David Warner and Steve Smith as they serve bans for their roles in the ball-tampering scandal.

The performances of the 6ft 8in Billy Stanlake, who lit up Jason Roy’s stumps with the second ball of the chase in figures of two for 44, and AJ Tye, two for 42 through his wily variations, have offered some cause for optimism if the batsmen can post a handy total in this series.

Paine said: “They have a lot of skills and variations so we’re confident if we can get enough runs they will create enough chances to win matches. Ask AJ, he’ll tell you he has 22 variations at the last count. Add Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood [all missing through injury] and it’s a pretty exciting group of fast bowlers.”

On Australia’s treatment by the Oval crowd, Paine said: “I’m pretty lucky I don’t hear much of it [keeping wicket] but the guys seemed happy. Well, not happy, but there wasn’t talk of copping too much stick. Which is nice from the England fans. Maybe if we win a few games they might.”

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