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Eoin Morgan at the launch of England"s World Cup kit

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Eoin Morgan says that the process of whittling England"s World Cup squad down to the final 15-man party was "the toughest decision I"ve ever been a part of", but believes that he personally, and his team as a whole, have never been better equipped to make the big calls, having grown together in the four years since the 2015 campaign.

Speaking at the launch of England"s World Cup kit in East London, Morgan admitted that his team"s final approach to the tournament had not been entirely smooth - with Alex Hales" expulsion from the squad for a second failed drugs test providing a particularly unwelcome distraction in recent weeks.

However, with England making a seamless readjustment in Hales" absence to beat Pakistan 4-0 in another record-breaking run of batting form, Morgan feels that the team have come through a significant stress test of their culture. Looking ahead, he backs his players to find further ways to keep winning in the event of any more disruption in the course of the tournament.

"I wouldn"t say it"s been smooth, I"d say we"ve been better equipped at dealing with anything that"s cropped up, certainly as a group," said Morgan. "For me as a captain, being more experienced, and having been through four years of being captain, our prep and planning has been excellent and the guys have responded to that by performing on a consistent basis, probably more so for last two years than first two."

Asked if the Hales situation was the sort of crisis that would have derailed past England World Cup campaigns, Morgan admitted: "Yeah, it probably would have. It"s something I"ve never come up against before."

However, he also explained that the team management had put in place contingency plans for similar incidents, meaning that they had not been caught entirely on the hop when the news of Hales" indiscretions were made public.

"We hadn"t planned exactly for that, we"d planned for instances when the [team] culture had been tested or individually we"d been tested," Morgan said. "There"s still loads of things that we"ve planned for that might continue to crop up throughout the World Cup.

"Our values as a team include the words "courage", "respect", and "unity", symbolising the three lions on our cap, and taking that cap forward across all three formats and all squads," he added.

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"Over a period of time everyone can relate to it on and off the field. For some people it may only be words, but for us as international cricketers, travelling around all the time, the one thing that"s constant right from the beginning of your journey is your cap. It"s a gentle reminder of how much responsibility you have, and the privileged position you are constantly in to make the most of that."

That shared journey made this week"s decision to cut Joe Denly and, especially, David Willey from England"s final 15 particularly tough to make, but having been given the casting vote in the selectors" deliberations, Morgan was able to defend the "logic of the decision and the balance of the squad" that resulted in Jofra Archer and Liam Dawson being called up in their places.

"It was the toughest decision I"ve ever been a part of, certainly with this group," said Morgan. "To leave two guys out, one who has been around for the last four years and been a big part of everything we"ve done on and off the field, and the other is an exceptionally talented cricketer. It"s unfortunate for those who missed out but it was the right call."

Morgan added that he wasn"t able to feel any great sense of relief at having made the cut, given that the contributions of both players had required "the time and dedication" to do them justice. However, he was able to reiterate to both the point he made at the presentation ceremony in Headingley last week, that the nature of a six-week tournament would almost certainly throw up the possibility of an replacement being called upon.

"We had a conversation last night," Morgan said, "explaining the fact that there are nine group-stage games and the fact that we have four fast bowlers, and one of them is likely to get injured. It happens.

"And I had the same conversation with Joe. We haven"t had many injuries in the batting department for a long time, so we need to plan for everything, given that they might come into play straightaway, so they need to be prepared for that."

Asked if England were playing "fearless" cricket in the wake of their 4-0 series win over Pakistan, Morgan actually felt that his team had reined in some of the more overt aggression that had led to a few rare but notable mishaps in recent years.

"I wouldn"t say that we feel fearless, probably two years ago we felt more fearless, because we were quite young in our growth as a team," he said. "We"ve had two more years" experience on top of that, and we are better at coping and adapting to scenarios and recognising different situations throughout a game. I wouldn"t say that"s fearless."

The team"s single biggest disappointment of the past four years, the Champions Trophy semi-final defeat against Pakistan in 2017, was an example of where England had been derailed in the recent past.

"One of the biggest learning things that came out of that was that it probably came a little bit early for us," he said. "We probably didn"t realise how good we were and how poor we were on slow wickets. Since then, we"ve improved our play at both home and away, and on wickets that don"t necessarily suit our planning."

Overall, however, Morgan said that he was simply itching to get started. "We are pretty close to our starting XI, barring a couple of pitch minor adjustments," he said. "If the game was tomorrow, it would be better for us than seven or eight days" time. Our preparation against Pakistan was as good as anything we could have hoped for. To perform like we did is extremely encouraging."

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