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Captain Morgan hails 'most talented' England one-day team

May 3, 2017

England's one-day cricket captain Eoin Morgan has hailed the current side as the team with the greatest natural ability he has ever been involved with.

Speaking to BBC Sport at the launch of the new England kits for the summer, Morgan said: The talent and ability in the side is second to none.

"I firmly believe this is the most talented group of players I've ever played with. I've been fortunate to play with some fantastic cricketers over the years."

With the ICC Champions Trophy among the highlights of the cricketing summer, Morgan has set his sights firmly on winning England's first global 50-over trophy - and then progressing on to victory in the 2019 World Cup, which will also be staged in England.

He remarked: "It is important to recognise the Champions Trophy is the halfway stage towards the 2019 World Cup and that's the real trophy we want to be lifting.

"That is the ultimate goal. This tournament is very relevant for us at the moment given the progression that we've made.

Fans booking corporate hospitality for ICC Champions Trophy matches at the Kia Oval will get a chance to enjoy seeing the England side in action against Bangladesh on June 1st, before which the summer action starts with two games against Morgan's native Ireland. After the sides meet in Bristol and Lord's this week, England will also play a three-match series this month against South Africa.

Among those players whose talent Morgan highlighted is Ben Stokes. The most valuable overseas player in the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction, the Durham all-rounder produced a magnificent 63-ball century on Monday to steer Pune to victory.

Morgan observed: "He goes out playing in the same team as the Australian captain Steve Smith and an Indian legend in MS Dhoni and outperforming those guys gives him an abundance of confidence."

England should start the summer well against an Irish side that has struggled in recent limited overs cricket, although Ireland will want to impress enough to boost their hopes of being awarded Test status by the ICC next month. But while they have that holy grail in mind, England's own focus will undoubtedly be on overcoming years of frustration in 50-over cricket.

While the side has performed poorly at recent World Cups, historically the failure to land a global 50-over trophy has ultimately been due to a string of defeats when they have found their form and got to finals. Previous Champions Trophy competitions in England in 2004 and 2010 have seen them lose finals they should have won, while they were also runners-up in the World Cups of 1979, 1987 and 1992. From Mike Gatting's ill-judged reverse sweep to Ian Botham's duck at the MCG and an improbable ninth-wicket partnership by the West Indies in September twilight, these finals have been strewn with misadventure.

In seeking to prevent a repeat, England will look to call on more than just talent; it could just be that the IPL experience of Stokes, Sam Billings and Jos Buttler will enable them to close out games when they are on top. If they can gain that ruthless edge, England will be almost unstoppable. 

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