England captain Eoin Morgan was effusive in praise for Joe Root, hailing the right-hand batsman as one of the world's best ahead of the three-match ODI series against Australia, starting this Friday (September 11) in Manchester.
The series, also part of the ICC Super League, sees Root's return to England's limited-overs outfit after being dropped for the T20Is versus the arch-rivals which the home team won 2-1 in his absence.
In the ODI game, however, England knows very well Root's value at the No.3 spot as an anchor around other aggressive batsmen in the line-up.
"Joe is one of the best players in the world and been in great form at Yorkshire so hopefully he can take that form into this series," Morgan told a news conference.
"Throughout the World Cup, he showed how valuable a player he is to us. He is under-sold a lot of the time in white-ball cricket, extremely versatile in what he does. His dot ball percentage is unbelievably low, his average is high, his strike rate high. From a number three, that's all you can ask."
While for England the series will be about continuing from strength to strength like the reigning World Cup-winners in the format, Australia will be hoping for inspired performances from their middle-order, the lack of which have hurt the side since a while.
Aaron Finch, the visiting captain, talked about the same issue, stressing that they are still in the process of figuring out their best combination, a task that would be made tougher while they also try to qualify for the 2023 World Cup through what is an uneasy Super League campaign for them.
"We're still searching for our best formula and our best 11 players day in, day out in the one-day format," said Finch. "I don't think there's any secret to that. We probably haven't nailed consistently in this format."
"We've played some really good cricket in patches and some indifferent cricket in other patches. I think it's important that we start to finalize our best eleven and make sure of our best 15 players going forward."
"We know that any time you play England you can't play at 90 percent, you have to be at 100 percent to beat them and we're excited about that challenge."
Finch said the series will certainly be an opportunity for someone like Mitchell Marsh, the fast bowling all-rounder who took Australia to victory in the final T20I, to try and cement his spot in the middle-order in ODIs.
"He averages 35 with the bat and I think 36 or 37 with the ball," Finch said. "We've probably been guilty of shuffling him around to try to fit some other pieces in there at times."
"He's got a great opportunity over the next couple of years to cement that spot and we've got huge confidence in him."
(Inputs from Reuters)