Today Jack Mendel continues our build up to Ireland’s ODIs in England this summer with a robust defence of Eoin Morgan, the man set to lead his adopted country against his native one in May.
I’d also like to tell you about the above video of comedian Dara O’Briain commentating on the cricket (or at least trying to)! They were made by Threepipe to promote the England versus Ireland games. Obviously Dara hasn’t got a clue what’s going on. It’s quite funny.
Before you think about criticising Eoin Morgan for all of his apparent faults, try to appreciate what he’s done to make his career happen.
In Morgan, England have an understated risk taker driven by his convictions, but of late he’s become disliked for three main things.
These things are a lack of form last year, what appeared to be a lack of commitment to playing Tests, and an impression he demands special treatment. Let’s deal with these one by one.
Firstly, he scored just 328 runs at an average of under 30 in 2016. Not good. He was first in line for the chopping block if the team didn’t do so well.
Secondly, before the West Indies tour he said he has given up on ever playing Tests again, but he would be available for the IPL. This is despite having played his last first class game in July 2015 for Middlesex (nearly two years ago). This appears as if he’s picking and choosing when he wants to play for England. It’s certainly not OK for him to complain about non-selection in a format he isn’t playing.
Thirdly, and most significantly, when England toured Bangladesh he very publicly refused to go. This is probably the fairest criticism of the three; that said he did it without platitude-filled press conferences or sob stories. He made his position clear, and many didn’t like it, but at least he gave the side a chance to prepare.
Although these things slowly eroded some of Morgan’s authority, I believe the criticism was a bit unfair. He isn’t perfect but he’s risked a lot to get where he is. What’s more, he has worked extremely hard not only on his batting but also to build this team up.
In 2016, Morgan had a torrid time, but he’s made up for it in 2017 with 300 runs in six innings, including two centuries.
Let’s not forget that Morgan has time and time again made sacrifices to play for England. Leaving his native Ireland to pursue an England career was a tough thing to do with no guarantees. He succeeded, but was then dropped. Undeterred, he quit the IPL to re-stake a claim in the Test side, and when it was apparent he wouldn’t play in whites again, he refocused his career once more.
Instead of sulking he focussed on playing ODI cricket and has succeeded. As England’s ODI captain, he’s now fifth on the list of most matches as skipper, with a better win percentage than three of the four men ahead of him. Only Michael Vaughan’s record is better, which is impressive company.
And, aside from the poor world cup performance, the teams Morgan has led have been formidable. This England team has power hitting, genuine allrounders, spinners, quick bowlers, and dynamic fielding.
You can’t complain that Morgan won’t play Tests, and wants to play in the IPL, but revel in his successes for England in ODIs. It’s precisely because Morgan chose to specialise that this young side has become so electric.
Eoin Morgan may not have fulfilled his potential in some areas of the game, but nobody should doubt his talent or his commitment to England.