Eoin Morgan says England embracing World Cup favourites tag

Eoin Morgan says England will not be weighed down by their position as favourites as they target a maiden World Cup title.

Hosts England have ascended to No 1 in the ICC ODI rankings and are now the team to beat – four years after they were dumped out of the previous World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in the group stage.

Morgan – whose men get the World Cup up and running against South Africa at The Oval on Thursday – have won 10 of their previous 11 bilateral ODI series, with the only blip coming when they drew 2-2 in the West Indies.

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The captain also spoke about how hearing from Gareth Southgate – who led England to the Football World Cup semi-finals last summer – has played a role in his team’s preparations.

“We have spoken about it as a group – the level of expectation and the favourites tag is there for a reason,” Morgan told reporters on Wednesday. “Over the last two years our form at home, in particular, has been outstanding.

“In the Worlds Cups I have played in we have gone in with very little expectation and not done that well. So I would pick this position over any other.

“We did a session with Gareth [Southgate] and it was brilliant – every one of our players and backroom staff enjoyed it.

“He talked about his journey with the team in and around the World Cup and in the build-up as well – how they built bigger expectations and became more together as a group.”

Morgan – who says England are looking for “a win under any circumstances” – confirmed his side’s XI had been decided, but would not be announced until the morning of the game.

Liam Plunkett, Mark Wood and Tom Curran would appear to be vying for the final seam spot alongside Chris Woakes and Jofra Archer.

“I’m good and the team are very well,” added Morgan, who has overcome a dislocated finger. “We’ve no injury concerns, we have a full bill of health.”

When asked what winning a World Cup on home soil would do for the game in the country, Morgan added: “It would mean a huge amount.

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