Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Trophy Bid Looks in Fine Shape after West Indies Tour; Cricket

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Trophy Bid Looks in Fine Shape after West Indies Tour; Cricket

Article excerpt

ENGLAND can press ahead to the Champions Trophy with confidence enhanced after their 3-0 whitewash of the West Indies in the Caribbean.

Captain Eoin Morgan reflected not just on a highly-favourable scoreline after his team's 186-run trouncing of the hosts in the third one-day international, but on progress made by individuals and a growing sense of unity in the squad.

Alex Hales' century on his comeback from injury - his first match since mid-January after breaking his hand in India - and another fine performance with the ball from evergreen ex-Durham seamer Liam Plunkett both fall into the second category.

Morgan is prizing the togetherness of a squad he hopes can deliver just England's second ICC global trophy when they take on the world on home soil in June.

He believes England, who have five ODIs before the start of the Champions Trophy and until May 1 to submit their provisional 15-man squad, benefited from their time in the middle but also the hours spent in one another's company off the pitch.

Much was understandably made of modern Caribbean surfaces and an opposition who have not qualified for this summer's tournament providing little relevant preparation for what is to come.

But Morgan is encouraged that England dug in for hard-fought victories in the first two matches and then proved, on another awkward pitch in Barbados, that they can top 300 even when conditions are not conducive.

"We came here to win three games, and we've won three games," he said.

"I think probably the strongest thing we've gained from this trip is adapting to conditions.

"I still maintain we can score 300 on most wickets. This (last) match has probably proved that more than most."

Even before England began their campaign, Morgan sensed they were a united force.

"I think we've gelled really well," he added. …

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