Cricket

England captain Eoin Morgan hails 'outstanding' James Taylor

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James Taylor's maiden international century put a smile back on Eoin Morgan's face as England stayed in with a chance of winning the Royal London Series against Australia.

Morgan finished the previous match with a face like thunder after a second successive defeat and the controversial dismissal of Ben Stokes for obstructing the field.

But after Taylor's 101 had helped England to 300 for eight at Old Trafford, and then spinners Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali shared five wickets in their 20 overs, the home captain will have reasons to be cheerful on the short drive over the Pennines on Wednesday to Leeds.

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There, England can contemplate levelling the series at 2-2 - with a decider in the offing back at Old Trafford on Sunday - after bowling Australia out in 44 overs to win by 93 runs.

Morgan was especially impressed by Taylor's awareness of what was required, and what was possible, in a century which contained just five boundaries but ensured England could set a winning score.

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"It was an absolutely outstanding performance," he said, congratulating Taylor on continuing his fine start by achieving his first three-figure score at this level, after two 40s in his previous two innings against Australia in the past week.

"We've certainly spoken about guys going on throughout this series and today it was a crucial innings.

"The wicket became more difficult to play on as the innings progressed and James adapted beautifully."

Morgan has found Taylor an infuriating opponent many times in county cricket, so is delighted to have him on his side for England.

"He is [great to bat with]," said the captain, having made 62 himself in a third-wicket stand of 119 alongside Taylor.

"He's rapid between the wickets - he sort of laps me, which is quite 'enjoyable'. He's very unique, the way he plays.

"Having played against him a lot in county cricket, he can be annoying to captain against - which is always a good sign if he then gets runs for us."

Morgan also had high praise for England's two spinners.

"They were exceptional," he said.

"I think five for 70 in 20 (overs) was outstanding, considering in the last couple of games we've struggled to take wickets in the middle period.

"They took advantage of conditions, never let up, probably bowled (just) one or two bad balls in those 20 overs and continued to put Australian batsmen under pressure.

"As a side, we were up against it a little bit. To come out today and produce such a strong performance all round was brilliant."

Jason Roy's rapid half-century at the top of the order was also a telling performance for England.

But perhaps most memorable of all for Morgan was the one-handed, diving catch taken by his Middlesex colleague Steve Finn, who needed all his 6ft 7in to hold on and help Rashid see off Australia captain Steve Smith at midwicket.

"I still can't believe it," said Morgan, who has played and practised with fast bowler Finn since both were teenagers.

"It was an exceptional, absolutely unbelievable catch.

"I've never seen Finny take a catch like that. I was very surprised, and delighted."

Australia opener Aaron Finch top-scored with 53 on his comeback from injury, but fell to Rashid, before the next six wickets went for the addition of just 44 runs.

Finch said: "I put my hand up ... I got off to a good start, got us into a decent position and then threw it away.

"We knew, on that wicket, for new batters coming in it was always going to be tough.

"So it was a poor display that none of us went on with it.

"It was an opportunity missed ... and I take full responsibility for that."

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England cricket
Cricket

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