EOIN MORGAN is hoping to erase the memory of one of his worst days in cricket by guiding England into the World Cup semi-finals when they host New Zealand at Emirates Riverside today.

England take on the Black Caps in their final group game at Chester-le-Street knowing only a win will guarantee their place alongside their opponents in the last four.

Four years ago, England were humiliated by New Zealand as they were dismissed for just 123 in a crushing eight-wicket defeat in the group stages of the World Cup in Wellington.

New Zealand’s performances on home soil have subsequently been credited with transforming the way most leading sides have approached one-day cricket, and inspiring the aggressive, front-foot approach that has lifted England to the top of the World rankings.

Morgan admits he learned a lot from New Zealand’s performance and attitude in February 2015, but concedes the pain of such an embarrassing defeat has taken a long time to fade.

“It was as close to rock bottom as I’ve been,” said Morgan, who is set to lead out an unchanged team this morning. “Certainly, as a cricketer and a player. Being beaten off the park like that is humiliating.

“The influence of that cricket team on the world was quite extreme. New Zealand proved a point that you could be really good humans and play the game in the right way, your own way, but also win at the same time.

“That was incredibly eye-opening for everybody, and I think there were lessons learned from that by everybody at the World Cup.”

Morgan was appointed skipper in the run-up to the last World Cup, replacing Alastair Cook, and from the moment his side left Australia and New Zealand after a campaign that saw them repeatedly underachieve, the England captain pledged to adopt a much more expansive style.

In the last four years, whenever England have had their backs to the wall in a 50-over setting, they have come out fighting, and the same was true on Sunday as they saw off India to keep their hopes of making the last four alive.

There is a scenario whereby England could lose today’s game and still qualify for the last four – they would be relying on Bangladesh beating Pakistan at Lord’s on Friday – but Morgan admits his side are approaching today’s trip to the North-East as a do-or-die battle.

Jason Roy and Jofra Archer have both been passed fit, and England’s players will be eschewing a safety-first approach in order to take the game to their opponents.

“After the defeat to Australia, there was definitely an air of disappointment in the group,” said Morgan. “But we got together and discussed what we had to do to progress to the semi-finals. We’ve been very clear about how we want to play, and that hasn’t changed.

“The most satisfying thing from the last game (against India) was that we went out and played our form of cricket. We were able to do that. The way the two guys played at the top of the order (Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow), I felt that really set the tone for the way we played on a wicket we didn’t initially think was that good to bat on. They took us to such a high score.”

Significantly, England won the toss at Edgbaston at the weekend, enabling them to bat first. Their three World Cup defeats, to Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia, have all come when they have batted second, leading to accusations that they are not the same side when asked to chase down a total.

Morgan’s press conference yesterday took place before he had a chance to assess the Riverside wicket, but if the strip is similar to the one that staged Monday’s high-scoring game between Sri Lanka and West Indies, it should favour the batsmen.

It is hard to imagine England not batting first if Morgan wins the toss, but if the decision is taken out of his hands, the skipper is confident his side will not wilt under the pressure of a run-chase.

Instead, he accepts his players will have to become better at assessing any subtle changes in conditions, with the wickets used in the tournament so far tending to become more difficult to bat on as a game progresses.

“I think we just have to accept that the wickets haven’t been as good as we’ve maybe been used to for most of the last four years,” he said. “The wicket they played on here on Monday looked to stay pretty good for the full 100 overs, but every wicket we’ve played on so far has been more difficult to bat on in the second innings. Even the games I’ve seen on TV, it’s been tougher in the second innings.”

England (probable): Roy, Bairstow, Root, Morgan, Stokes, Buttler, Woakes, Plunkett, Archer, Rashid, Wood.

New Zealand (probable): Guptill, Nicholls, Williamson, Taylor, Latham, de Grandhomme, Neesham, Santer, Sodhi, Ferguson, Boult.