Eoin Morgan, England's white ball game-changer

Eoin Morgan, England’s white ball game-changer

Eoin Morgan may be England’s all-time top scorer in One-Day and Twenty20 cricket, but the World Cup winner’s game-changing impact on the team has been measured in more than just numbers.

Morgan, 35, announced his international retirement on Tuesday at Lord’s, where he captained England in their memorable World Cup final win over New Zealand in 2019.

The thrilling victory was the culmination of Morgan’s white ball revolution as he oversaw a complete change in attitude towards limited play in his adopted country.

Still his own man, Dublin-born Morgan quickly rose through the ranks of Irish cricket, becoming known for his unorthodox shots.

But Ireland not being a test nation then, he made no secret of his desire to qualify for England and made his debut for Middlesex a week after his 19th birthday.

The left-hander was equally decisive when he pulled out of Test cricket after playing the last of 16 games in the longer format in 2012 when he realized there was no chance red ball reminder.

Focusing on limited overrun internationals, Morgan became England’s all-time top scorer in ODI and T20 cricket with 6,957 and 2,458 runs respectively.

His tally of 225 ODI and 115 T20I appearances is another England record, but it was as a breakthrough captain that Morgan had his biggest impact.

Appointed on the eve of the 2015 World Cup after coaches got rid of Alastair Cook, he led England to a miserable first-round exit sealed by a crushing defeat against Bangladesh.

But inspired by the attacking approach of New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum, who recently became England’s red ball manager, Morgan has overseen a remarkable revival.

Just under three months after being beaten by New Zealand at the World Cup in a game where McCullum hit 77 from just 25 balls, England turned the tables on the Black Caps by thrashing 408-9 in a 210-point win at Edgbaston.

Morgan, with the backing of coach Trevor Bayliss – the Australian was drafted into the England squad after the 2015 debacle – presided over 16 wins from 20 bilateral series in the four years between World Cups.

England in this era rose to No. 1 in the standings, with the likes of Jos Buttler, Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes subscribing to Morgan’s policy of fearless attacking cricket.

Morgan was also adept on the pitch, with his sensitive captain allowing Adil Rashid to flourish.

The skipper also wisely had a soothing word with Jofra Archer after the speedy bowler sent wide at the start of a Super Over which ended with England beating New Zealand in the World Cup final.

In a nod to the Muslim faith of Rashid and his England team-mate Moeen Ali, Morgan also acknowledged the diversity of the team after that game saying “Allah was with us”.

Morgan has also had a ruthless streak, as evidenced by how drummer Alex Hales has remained in exile in England since testing positive for recreational drugs in the build-up to the 2019 World Cup following what the captain said was a “breach of trust”.

There have been setbacks, including a loss in the 2016 T20 World Cup final to West Indies, while his own form has declined over the past year.

Morgan has been absent twice for nothing in the recent ODI series in the Netherlands and has gone just two fifty of his last 28 international innings in both white ball formats.

Morgan’s legacy, however, remains safe, with former England captain Nasser Hussain telling Sky Sports: “Eoin was the most influential white-ball cricketer England ever had.

“He’s been our best white ball captain and he’s been a fantastic player.

“And he gave us the best moment of English white-ball cricket we’ve ever had, at Lord’s. A lot of that was down to the skipper.”

jdg / smg / jc