Morgan backs Ballance to fire

The Yorkshire left-hander, batting at No 3, has scored 10 in each of England???s three matches against Australia, New Zealand and Scotland.

England have to win their three remaining pool matches against Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to be sure of qualifying for the quarter-finals, and Ballance is under pressure for his place from Alex Hales, the Nottinghamshire opener, and Essex all-rounder Ravi Bopara, neither of whom have been used yet.

Morgan suggested Ballance was likely to remain at three in Wellington, however, saying: “I think any criticism that has gone his (Ballance’s) way so far is unfair.

“I think he’s a fantastic cricketer and a guy with a huge amount of potential.

“He’s played against two of the tougher sides in the World Cup and he dragged one on against Scotland. In my eyes he’s been a bit unlucky.”

Morgan admits his team cannot afford any more slip ups in the remaining pool games although defeat in Wellington would not necessarily be a terminal blow.

“It is quite a big game for us in particular,” Morgan said. “We see these last three group games as must-win games.

“We’re going to have to be good. Our performance is going to have to be better than we’ve produced at this World Cup so far.”

The Wellington Regional Stadium might not be as the perfect venue for England to return to after suffering one of their worst-ever World Cup defeats there just a week ago.

Morgan’s men were pulverised by the Black Caps, which led to some heavy criticism of coach Peter Moores.

Former England captains Paul Collingwood and Michael Vaughan have both suggested Moores’ position is under threat, less than a year since he took over the role for a second time.

Moores??? only significant series win since taking over last year has been over India in last summer’s Tests and they have won just nine out of 25 ODIs.

“Mooresy has been awesome since he’s come in,” Morgan said.

“He’s been completely different to anybody I’ve ever worked with before. He’s different to Andy Flower and Ashley Giles.

“He brings a lot of energy to the side, he brings a lot of ideas. The basis around international cricket is trying to be one step ahead of the game, particularly as a coach.

“You’re trying to find little edges here and there without there without taking the basics away. I think he’s done that since he’s been involved.”

If Moores is hoping to earn some respite at the site of one of his worst defeats, Morgan believes the players have been steeled by the shock of that eight-wicket reverse.

“I think we’re better for it,” he said.

“If we were to go back to the MCG it wouldn’t be any different. We played against a very good side and learned what we did on that day. We are able to come back here again and almost get a second chance.

“You can sit back and say it has cost us a win, but in the long run we’re still in the World Cup. We can come back and rectify anything we got wrong.”