Wellington: England's batting coach Mark Ramprakash insisted on Thursday Eoin Morgan's strength of character will see the struggling captain come good at the World Cup. England will look to Morgan to give their batting a much-needed lift in their Pool A match against formidable New Zealand in Wellington on Friday after they lost their opener against Australia by 111 runs last weekend. New Zealand have won both their opening games.
Brendon McCullum. Pic/AFP
And Ramprakash, himself a steady batsman in first-class cricket, said Morgan has handled the World Cup pressure admirably. "Look, he's aware of the fact that he wants more runs and it's important for the team that he plays his part," said Ramprakash of Morgan who has managed just two runs in the last five games, with four scoreless outings.
"But in terms of handling the tournament, the pressures of it, you couldn't really ask for a better character to be able to handle that." Ramprakash, who played 52 Tests and 18 one-day internationals in an international career which never hit the heights of his county exploits, denied he needed to exert pressure on Morgan. "I would never say 'I think you should do this'.
It's more throwing in the odd question and seeing how he feels. Seeing how he wants to go about business. "He thinks about his own game. He knows his strengths. So the onus of responsibility is on him because of his experience." Ramprakash heaped further praise on Morgan for handling the captaincy despite his lack of runs.
"I've been hugely impressed with the way Eoin's dealt with taking over the group but also the way he manages to differentiate between the captaincy and the leadership role with his own game," said Ramprakash of Morgan who took over as one-day captain after Alastair Cook was axed following a wretched run of form late last year.
"It's hugely encouraging to see him get what I thought was a wonderful knock at the SCG (Sydney)," said the batting coach of Morgan's hundred against Australia in the tri-series in January. "The hundred he got there was a real testament to his character because he wasn't at his fluent best and the team were in trouble. Yet he showed all the resilience."
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum also backed Morgan to be back in the runs soon describing the batsman as a "tough bloke". "He's a champion player. He's one of my better mates from around the world in terms of cricket. He's going through a bit of a tough time at the moment, but tough times don't last, tough blokes do," said McCullum. "So hopefully at some point he'll come out of it.
Hopefully tomorrow we're able to keep him quiet. But I am very confident at some point he'll bounce out of it because he's a quality player and a tough bloke too." Meanwhile, Ramprakash believes his batsmen have the ability to tame New Zealand's impressive pace attack in Friday's game. "Well, they've been going very well. What I like about their attack, it's got a good variety to it.
Our players will certainly be preparing for the ball to swing early on. "(Tim) Southee and (Trent) Boult showed when the ball is swinging, they've got the ball in the right area to create problems for batsmen. So we're preparing for that as if the ball will swing, clearly. "And then they've got that variety in the middle with (Daniel) Vettori and (Nathan) McCullum. So our players need to know where their scoring areas are, where they're looking to hurt opposition, and be really clear on that."