Morgan’s Resurgence Gives Unnecessary Series Some Relevance

Here’s a question for you. Do you think scheduling this short ODI series in the West Indies makes it more likely that England will win the Champions Trophy? Personally I don’t think it makes a rat’s arse of difference. If anything it probably hinders our chances. Surely the likes of Joe Root and Ben Stokes would be better served by having a breather after a busy winter?

Let’s face it. The conditions in the West Indies are totally different to England in May and June; therefore this mini series serves no purpose whatsoever in terms of preparation.

In years gone by a series like this might have served some purpose. That’s because England rarely had a settled XI and usually needed all the preparation time they could get to try out various combinations.

On this occasion, however, everyone knows what this England side is: we’re very good at batting but the bowling is average at best. What’s more, we pretty much know the potential of all the individuals involved (except perhaps for Sam Billings). All the other squad members are known quantities at this point with enough games under their belt.

One clear benefit of the 1st ODI in Antigua, however, is that it’s given Eoin Morgan another opportunity to flaunt his rediscovered mojo. Morgan might have been under huge pressure in different circumstances – especially now that Joe Root provides a clear alternative as captain – but he’s found a rich vein of form just at the right time.

It’s impossible not to feel really pleased for Eoin. I used to rate him highly. In the first three years of his career I thought he was one of the best white ball players in the world and certainly one of the best England (or should that be Ireland?) had produced. However, in recent times I think he’s looked a different player: one who was somewhat tentative and unsure of his game.

I really feared we’d never see the old Eoin ever again. Where had the old swagger gone? I even advocated dropping him for James Taylor and / or Ben Duckett. I won’t repeat this folly again … at least while he keeps batting like he did yesterday. It was a really mature innings. He read the pitch and situation perfectly, played himself in, and then accelerated at the death. Classic stuff.

I was always confident England would defend their useful total of 296 on this pitch. The West Indies are bad, really bad, at 50 over cricket – which is weird because they’re obviously World T20 champions. The last time I looked they are second bottom of the rankings (with only Zimbabwe behind them) which is quite depressing not only for their long suffering fans but for world cricket in general.

England put them away clinically yesterday – despite losing a toss that looked quite important at the time – and I guess this will build extra confidence in our squad. Liam Plunkett and Chris Woakes, who both picked up four wickets, will feel pretty happy with life. However, if I was Joe Root, I’d much prefer to be resting up with my wife and new baby back in Blighty.

After all, what do runs and wickets in the Caribbean actually prove at this stage? The whole tour feels a tad unnecessary. It’s almost like the England team have become some revenue generating band of globetrotters. Excuse my cynicism.

James Morgan


  • This little series would also feel a lot more purposeful if the English supporters did’t appear to outnumber the locals!

  • ” The West Indies are bad, really bad, at 50 over cricket – which is weird because they’re obviously World T20 champions”.

    It’s not at all weird because WI only had one player (Brathwaite) on the field who played in the T20I Final. It says everything about how cricket is being run (and the WICB, ICC, ECB, BCCI and CA are all to blame -as are the players).

    WI are the trail-blazers for the role envisaged for Bangladesh, NZ and probably SL as well. Their B teams give warm-ups for the big boys while their A players are franchise superstars (not their own franchises, obviously).

    • It’s weird because of the way ODI cricket is going (higher scoring rates etc). The Windies have always seemed to produce highly talented ball strikers. Even without their franchise superstars, you’d think there would be enough pure natural talent in the islands to climb above the likes of Bangladesh in the rankings. I’ve always thought the Windies were good at T20 because it’s less technical than test cricket and there’s more emphasis on hand eye coordination / strength etc. I’m surprised little of this seems to translate to their 50 over side. Recent trends in ODIs should play into their hands imho.

  • I’m more positive about it. Selfishly, I enjoy sitting down watching our chaps playing cricket and have long felt an affinity with Eoin’s team.

    I saw Ben Stokes’ interview (promoted as “Stokes has grown up”) and he says, yes, there’s a lot of cricket scheduled but it’s the job and it’s great to be doing something you love.

    As far as what England can take from this series:

    Can we get the old Finn back?
    Will Billings settle and reveal his talent.
    Look poisonous Press – most economical bowler was Rashid
    The skipper was superb. Great knock to mock the doubters
    Will someone notice that our keeper is not very good?
    Hopefully, Hales, Ball and Buttler the bat can get in some decent match practice.
    The scenery is wonderful

  • 1. Billings is a wicketkeeper possibly without iron hands.
    2.Morgan is a leader and a captain.
    3. How do we protect this young generation of attacking batsmen – who rely so much on fearlessness – from fear, creeping up on them and destroying what sets them apart?

    • Your first point is important. Buttler is not an international keeper (or even a very good FC one). Billings is a decent keeper and should have the gloves. It is impossible to understand a management which gives Buttler the gloves when either Billings or Bairstow is playing (especially when Buttler gets in the team on batting alone). It is like giving Root the new ball over Woakes.

  • I agree that the likes of Root and Stokes would benefit from a break but a lot of the guys are white ball specialists. More games the better. Especially if it means we can find some bowlers

  • I think I saw a first for me in this match – a bowler kicks the ball on to the stumps and achieves a run-out. How many times have the rest of you seen that?

    • I have seen it (and better) in a club game. Batsman smashed a straight drive, bowler threw a foot out by instinct, the kick went onto bowlers stumps running out non-striker. Of course this happens not infrequently, but what made this different was the deliberate kick out and the need to then carry the bowler off to A&E for an x-ray on what turned out to be a broken ankle.


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