Southampton: England captain Andrew Strauss compared Eoin Morgan to Australia one-day great Michael Bevan after an unbeaten century saw his side to a four-wicket win over the Aussies here on Tuesday.
England collapsed to 97 for four under the Rose Bowl floodlights as they chased 268 for victory in the first of this five-match one-day series.
But Morgan held his nerve superbly and saw England home to victory with a sparkling 103 not out, including 16 boundaries, off just 85 balls as the hosts beat the world champions with four overs to spare.
Bevan, like Morgan a left-hander, developed an enviable reputation as a `finisher` of a one-day innings during 232 limited overs internationals, the last in 2004, which saw him score six hundreds and average over 53.
Morgan has some way to go to match those figures but the signs were promising in what was his second one-day century for England after he reached three figures in Bangladesh earlier this year.
"The great thing about Morgy is he is a finisher but he does it in an aggressive manner as well, and that puts opposition captains under pressure," Strauss said of his Middlesex colleague.
"And he`s doing it consistently as well," the opening batsman added.
"It was an outstanding innings today (Tuesday), and one of the very best I`ve seen in an England shirt.”
"We`ve been looking for a Michael Bevan type character for quite a long time. Morgs has shown a few times in both 20 over and 50 over cricket that he can play in a similar fashion, and perhaps a bit more aggressively than Bevan."
The modest Morgan, whose innings featured some trademark reverse-sweeps against off-spinner Nathan Hauritz, said: "I`m just doing what I practise really. The wicket allowed us today to go out and play our shots.”
Morgan, a member of the England team that beat Australia in last month`s World Twenty20 final in Barbados, insisted he`d stuck to his usual approach.
"I played my percentages and took it on."
Bevan was always considered as a far better one-day player than Test batsman. Morgan is yet to make headlines in the five-day format after modest returns in his two Tests to date, both at home to strugglers Bangladesh.
But Australia captain Ricky Ponting, a star batsman in both Test and one-day cricket, was impressed by the 23-year-old Morgan`s innings on Tuesday.
"Morgan played very, very well," Ponting said. "A hundred off 85 balls, when you are chasing that sort of total, is always a special innings.
"Against the slower guys he is unorthodox. You saw that tonight when (Nathan) Hauritz first came on. The way he reverse sweeps makes it difficult to set fields for."
Asked whether Morgan had paced his innings in Bevan fashion, Ponting said: "He probably did. He did everything right tonight."
However, Australia`s attack lacks injured quicks Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson, Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle.
Morgan cashed in against Ryan Harris and left-arm quick Doug Bollinger, while medium-pacer Shane Watson`s eight overs cost an expensive 55 runs.
"The way our quicks and our medium-pacers bowled to him tonight, we just gave him too many easy boundary options,” Ponting said.
"He hit a lot of cover-drives for four. We have to address that, and address it pretty quickly for the next game," added Ponting ahead of the second one-dayer in Cardiff on Thursday.
"We have to make it harder for good players like him to find the boundary in those middle overs."