Eoin Morgan using series against Pakistan as final chance to experiment before T20 World Cup

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Saqib Mahmood has an opportunity to break into the squad (Getty Images)
Saqib Mahmood has an opportunity to break into the squad (Getty Images)

The unexpected need to call up a completely new squad while the first XI isolated gave the first leg of Pakistan’s tour of England a slightly fanciful and relaxed feel.

But for the three T20s that begin at Trent Bridge tonight, it is back to business for England under Eoin Morgan. The squad is a hybrid of senior figures, with some of the ODI scratch team rewarded with a call-up, as all-formatters such as Sam Curran and Mark Wood sit out.

The revolving door of England selection - 40 players have pulled on the shirt across formats this year - makes it inevitable that key men are missing.

Ben Stokes is resting his recovering finger, while Jofra Archer is nearing a comeback with Sussex or Southern Brave in the Hundred.

Morgan sees this as the final chance to experiment before October’s T20 World Cup in the Emirates.

England will make flying visits to Bangladesh and Pakistan before that tournament, but that is about fine-tuning. This an opportunity for players such as Saqib Mahmood and Lewis Gregory to break into the squad.

“Not knowing what is ahead, we need to look more into strength in depth,” said Morgan.

“You’ll see us giving opportunities and going through little options in the next three games for possible injury replacements for certain players.

“The priority throughout the series will be to give guys an opportunity and treating it as if it’s our last chance to look at guys in various positions.”

High on the priority list when it comes to experimentation will be death bowling. England’s dominance in white-ball cricket this summer means they have barely been in tested in this key department, by either Sri Lanka or Pakistan, in either format.

Morgan is missing at least five seamers who could be involved in the World Cup, so he says all the pace bowlers in the squad for this series will get a chance to prove themselves at the death. Of this squad, perhaps only Chris Jordan could be confident of his place in the World Cup squad.

The batting looks a more closed shop. Stokes is missing but England’s top four is settled, with Morgan in the role of finisher. Moeen Ali is set to play in Curran’s absence, while Liam Livingstone had an excellent series against Sri Lanka.

Tom Banton, called up then put into isolation, deserves a game at some stage.

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