In Defence of Eoin Morgan


The first time I saw England’s ODI captain bat, he impressed me immensely. It was a county game between Middlesex and Kent (or possibly Sussex). There was a big crowd, gentle sunshine, and the smell of victoria sponges in the air.

All the pre-match talk was about the young South African tearaway Wayne Parnell, who has making his first televised appearance in county cricket. We heard how fast Parnell would bowl; how he was a cross between Allan Donald and Wasim Akram; how Middlesex would be unable to cope with his pace and aggression. Eoin Morgan sent the bloke packing. Absolutely destroyed him.

Within a few weeks, this highly impressive left-hander was poached from Ireland to play for England. I really liked what I saw. He had panache, swagger and ice in his veins.

I’m not going to sit here and pretend that everything in Eoin Morgan’s garden is rosy right now. He’s struggling big time. I’m also a little disappointed that he’s probably no longer the world class ODI player he was a couple of years ago: in the early years of career I thought he was sensational, and could go on to become the new Michael Bevan or Yuvraj Singh.

I never thought Morgan would be a good test player, as I didn’t think his unorthodox style would translate, but I still thought he was the best one-day specialist we’d produced since Neil Fairbrother. The last couple of years have therefore come as something as a shock.

From where I’m standing, Eoin Morgan’s technique doesn’t quite look the same. It all started when that bizarre crouch crept into his game a couple of years ago. What on earth were the England coaches thinking?

Although this problem has largely been fixed, Morgan still doesn’t look back to his old self: he looks uncertain, as demonstrated by his dismissal against Mitchell Johnson a couple of weeks ago when he shouldered arms to a straight one.

Morgan’s strength used to be the simplicity of his game. If you look past the reverses-sweeps and switch-hits, his method used to be simple: keep still, watch the ball, whack it. We still see occasional glimpses of this player, but generally he looks a bit frazzled at the moment. Certainty has abandoned him.

Having said that, I’m confident that Morgan can rediscover his mojo. Although I’m slightly worried by his technique, I think he can thrive if he drops down the order to six, gets away from the new balls, and focuses on what he does best: finishing the innings.

Ideally Morgan shouldn’t think too hard about his batting. I simply want him to look at the scoreboard, assess the run rate, and wallop the ball into gaps. He’s got enough on his plate as captain, so I just want him to start enjoying himself without overcomplicating things.

I don’t want this to sound like a Derek Pringle article about Alastair Cook, but I also think Morgan has the resilience to bounce back. He has great mental strength. However, whereas I think Cook’s resilience comes from stubbornness – Alastair’s interviews betray a somewhat apprehensive personality that wants to be loved – a see no such insecurity in Morgan’s eyes. Watch his latest interview below. Despite all the pressure I see a composed and impressive young man.

Morgan is also the kind of person who doesn’t make excuses. Everyone within the England camp has adopted Peter Moores’ management speak to a certain extent – and Eoin does use the slightly nauseating term ‘reconnect with our batting’  – but overall I sense he doesn’t suffer guff lightly.

Our current ODI skipper is honest. He admits England let themselves down against Australia. But when he talks about the positives (the good individual performances) it doesn’t come across like he’s clutching at straws. He’s not one for platitudes.

Eoin also keeps things in perspective: he appreciates these early games are really just warm-ups before the knock out stages. There’s no bull about ‘the next game being the biggest game’ and a ‘must-win’. He sees things for what they are.

The public might demand success in every game, but Morgan knows England’s World Cup will probably be defined by their performance in the quarter-finals. Win that one game, reach the semis, and most people will be satisfied.

James Morgan


  • Morgan? Only alternative from a non-existent list of serious candidates. Shows no more aptitude for captaincy than Cook, seems both tactically and motivationally naiive. And he’s in pretty poor form.

    Still, he doesn’t irritate as many as Cook did, handles interviews with more confidence than Cook, and is amazingly well versed in Moores-speak. And in getting rid off Cook and giving Morgan the captain, its freed up a place for a “proper” ODI batsman like Ian Bell….

    So, sort of typical of the entire set off resources developed by the ECB. And I doubt Mike Brearley or Brian Close could do much with that lot. As they say, you can’t polish a turd.

  • Agree wholeheartedly about Morgan – he’s just nicking everything at the moment – the last dismissal against Australia kind of summed up his game. One advantage of this format is games against Bangladesh, UAE and Scotland which might give him a chance to spend some time in the middle

    The crouch thing was a trigger movement he always had which became more and more pronounced as his form deteriorated – I don’t think the beleaguered England coaches can really be blamed for that.

    The only technical thing with Morgan is that he keeps nicking these back of a length balls outside off with an open face – he seems to always be looking to run the ball down to third man.

  • The straw that I clutch regarding Morgan is this one:
    (and if we were not mid-tournament with no call ups except for injury, I might stop clutching and start campaigning for a change)

    Stil, here it is:

    121 England v Australia Sydney 16 Jan 2015 ODI # 3578

    Seems to me that he can do it on these pitches, against good opposition.
    If he manages it only once in this tournament, if it comes at the right time, it’ll have been worth the gamble…

    I’d probably have made Bell captain, to see. But then, I’d have done it months ago to get him ready for the tournament…

  • No batsman ever fully recovers from a session to the England batting coaches.

    Or bowler, come to think of it. We have a really world class record of taking fantastically talented county cricketers, interfering needlessly with their techniques, and turning them into fantastically mediocre country cricketers.

    Which is about where Morgan is right now.

  • First, I like Morgan and his approach but…
    1. He hasn’t been good enough to get a place in the side purely on merit for some time now and yet he’s parachuted in to the World Cup side because no one who IS there on merit is deemed to be as good a captain as he.
    2. He seems to be a better motivator than AC had become, but he’s no Brearley or Vaughan as an on field tactician, although, to be fair, so many decisions in this form of the game are taken in advance by the coach and the captain is simply the on field executive.
    3. He is a good player of less than top class bowling, which not everyone is. This can be an asset as long as his innings coincides with certain phases of the game, but that is usually beyond the control of the batting side. Asked to score quickly against top class bowling and things look very different.

  • A lovely article that sums Eoin up very well.Yes, he is going through a bad patch and can’t see him getting back on top till he gets away from Moores and company.The last thing Eoin needs is Moores in his ear all the time and that is the way Moores coaches Eoin just needs to be allowed to captain his team as he sees fit He has great understanding of his men and they respect him..To be able to relax and enjoy his cricket then the old Eoin will reappear.How many players have Moores and Flower.destroyed and how many more still before someone just gets rid of both of them.

  • A useful reminder from Nick Hoult about the hand that Morgan was dealt:

    “There has to be a level of sympathy for Morgan. Most captains at this tournament have had the benefit of years of planning for the World Cup. Captaincy was thrust on him in the middle of the night while he was playing Big Bash cricket in Australia. He has not had time to put his stamp on the team and had no say in the selection of the squad. He is playing catch-up at the worst possible time because England were not ruthless enough in removing Alastair Cook earlier last year. The team are still playing in Cook’s mould with Test players dominating the batting line-up while aggressive strikers such as Alex Hales and Ben Stokes are not in the team”.

    Hoult also mentions that England may prefer to chase in Wellington as the wicket has a reputation for being better to bat on second under lights and that James Tredwell is being seriously considered.

    There also seems a distinct possibilty that Australia vs. Bangladesh will be rained off.

  • Bang on James. I agree. I think Morgan is suffering from the Moores and Flower factor. Stats, stats, plans, plans, and lousy coaches. I remember Morgan knocking the ball all over the place. Now he looks out of his comfort zone, not unlike Cook looked when he was facing good bowling. It doesn’t seem to me to be a long stretch from the change in the way the team is playing to the way the team is being run. England management is shambolic and ruined England Cricket. A lot of players along the way have lost form, concentration, ability. I really feel for Morgan. I think he was the best person for the job. Sadly the ECB has passed the poison chalice from Cook to Eoin. Just terrible waste of great talent.

  • It’s cringe-worthy how much apologizing there is for Eoin Morgan in both mainstream and non-mainstream media. His batting has been ABYSMAL for almost 2 years now. There is no way his stats merit a place in the playing XI. And his on-field tactics as a captain are actually worse than Cook’s — something I previously thought wasn’t possible. And Morgan captained VERY poorly for Middlesex too.

    Eoin Morgan has been an overhyped batsman who has been repeatedly exposed brutally by quality bowling. And before anyone comes up with the usual excuse of “England setup ruining him” — just check out his IPL record. Morgan’s IPL record is extremely average, and has never been good enough to be consistently picked in the playing XI.

    Only in England can an average cricketer like Eoin Morgan be talked up so much.

    • Only in England can an average cricketer like Eoin Morgan be talked up so much

      Clearly not true, as he was just bought in the IPL, so someone must be talking him up over there.
      And putting their money where their mouth is…

      • Getting an IPL contract != Being hyped up as a ‘world class’ cricketer. He has been bought for a base-level bargain price. It doesn’t mean the IPL teams rate him highly. Players like Dan Christian have been brought for close to a million dollars in the IPL in previous years. And about 15 Aussies and 10 or so Saffers and Kiwis get signed by IPL teams every year. It doesn’t mean all those players are world class.

        • Quite right. His IPL contract reflects the commercial value to the organisers of having someone they can bill as an England captain rather than EM’s value to the team as a player.

          • And in the bizarre world of the IPL, Ravi Bopara is worth more than Kane Williamson… Somehow…

  • As far as I can see, the best argument for keeping him is that it’s not his fault he was suddenly shoe-horned into the job at the last moment. It’s ridiculous to expect him to establish himself as captain as well as at the same time establishing himself as a member of the team. February last year would have been a better time for having this debate, rather than using a major tournament as an experimental setting.

    …All I remember of Morgan is that after a T20 match he said the reason they lost was because they didn’t hit enough 4s — the team that hits the most fours wins 83% of games. I don’t blame him for not understanding statistics (the more important stat, obviously that the team that makes the most runs wins 100% of games, and 83% of the time they also happen to have hit more 4s), but it does show how tamely is forced to accept England’s clueless and idiotic coaching.

  • If he continues to fail throughout the tournament then fine, let’s move on. But why crucify him and write him off now? Beggars can’t be choosers I’m afraid, and Morgan has twice as many ODI tons against Australia than any other player in the squad. Those two tons prove, by the way, that he can make runs against the best teams.

  • My view at the time Cook was sacked was that they should pick their best 11 and then pick a captain from them. If that meant that Anderson or Broad ended up captain then so be it. If a captain under performs it puts a lot of pressure on him and the rest of the side. That said a failing Morgan does less harm than a failing Cook, as the latter did so much harm the top of the innings. Its all too late know though, just hope for the rest seems to be all we can do with Morgan.


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