Champions Trophy: Eoin Morgan calls England team 'most talented group I've played with'
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England one-day captain Eoin Morgan says the current side is the most talented group of players he has ever played with.
Morgan's team play their first ODI of the summer on Friday against Ireland at Bristol as they begin preparations for the Champions Trophy.
The 50-over tournament begins at The Oval on 1 June and consists of the eight best-ranked ODI teams.
"The talent and ability in the side is second to none," Morgan told BBC Sport.
"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."
England have never won a 50-over international competition and have won only one global trophy - the World Twenty20 in 2010 - but have twice reached the final of the Champions Trophy, in 2004 and 2013.
England and Wales will host the Champions Trophy, which runs from 1-18 June, and Morgan believes his team are playing a brand of cricket capable of winning a world tournament.
"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," he said.
"That is the ultimate goal. This tournament is very relevant for us at the moment given the progression that we've made.
"It is a very ruthless tournament - you have to win every game. Going in with that expectation and hype is very good for us as a group.''
'Stokes most dangerous player in world cricket'
Durham all-rounder Ben Stokes is one of eight England players to compete in this year's Indian Premier League.
He is the most expensive foreign player in IPL history and made a thrilling 63-ball century - his first in Twenty20 cricket - for Pune on Monday.
His international captain Morgan believes there is no-one more dangerous in world cricket right now than Stokes, who will miss the two ODIs against Ireland to remain in India.
"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," Morgan said.
"It is not only his own confidence, it will rub off on the team as well."
Knight 'cautiously optimistic' on Taylor
England's women will also be fighting for a limited-overs trophy this summer when the women's World Cup begins on 24 June on home soil.
The side, led by Heather Knight, have been preparing in the UAE in temperatures exceeding 40C at times.
The training camp was noticeable for the inclusion of Sarah Taylor. Widely considered the most talented player in women's cricket, she has been tackling anxiety-related issues which have had a profound effect on her health.
England remain cautiously optimistic that she will be part of the World Cup.
"Sarah did a lot more than was expected - she did very well out there. With Sarah it is one step at a time at the moment," captain Knight told BBC Sport.
"The World Cup is still eight weeks away. But it is great to see her out in an England shirt again, training around the group.
"She's still the world-class player she was - she'd still walk into any top four in any team in the world. It is great to see her and I love watching her bat. But the most important thing is that she's well, and it puts cricket into perspective, to see her tackling her issues, and hopefully she can come out the other side.''
Disability team want 'Disability IPL'
Uniquely, Tuesday's launch of the new England kits featured all England's captains, including representatives from every disability team.
All believe major strides have been made with the backing of the England and Wales Cricket Board but that there is still far greater scope for development and profile.
Ian Nairn, the captain of England's physical disability team, would like to see cricket achieve the same level of recognition as Paralympic sports.
''We're hitting sixes out of the ground as Eoin Morgan is, as Ben Stokes is. There is no reason why we shouldn't entertain to exactly the same standard," Nairn told BBC Sport. "It is 20-over cricket; it is fast and it is furious.
''We've got a long way to go get to the level of the Paralympics, but it is a global game. In the subcontinent there is a lot of disability and a lot of disabled people playing cricket.
"There's no reason why we can't go there and make it a commercial game. Maybe the 'Disability IPL' is the way forward - that's a dream that we all have.''