“If there’s one thing we have learned from the World Cup, it’s that we need to play positive cricket in order to be competitive in all conditions”.
These words from Eoin Morgan resonate the spirit with which England have approached the current bilateral series against New Zealand, spearheaded by none other than the captain himself. Morgan hit a blistering 113 en route to England’s highest ever run chase in the history of ODI cricket, thereby fortifying the solid impact he has had in this series. His role in the side’s resurgence to lost glory will not be questioned anytime soon. Eoin Morgan is here to stay.
The England side failed to qualify for the Quarterfinals of the ICC World Cup 2015, with a hapless show in the group stages, and captain Eoin Morgan found himself terribly out of form. The southpaw managed to score just 90 runs in 5 innings, without a single half-century in the tournament. That England suffered a defeat against underdogs Bangladesh, virtually putting an end to their hopes of qualification, added fuel to the fire. There were clamours for his sacking as the cricketing fraternity declared Morgan unfit to lead the new-look England side.
Quite often, a single series is enough to make or break a cricketer. Andrew Strauss wished to persist with Morgan, and believed that the latter had much more to offer. Whether it is England’s positive attitude that has rubbed off on Morgan, or whether the skipper himself has decided to revamp the modus operandi of the side, is a different question altogether. However, one thing is for certain – there has been a metamorphosis in his approach to the game, which is almost palpable and there for everyone to see.
On Wednesday, Eoin Morgan’s century was at the heart of a record-breaking chase, the fourth highest of all time. His partnership of 198 alongside Joe Root, became the highest third-wicket stand against New Zealand. He has amassed a staggering 322 in the four matches in the series so far, the highest run-getter for England, with a brilliant average of 80.50. With a century and 3 fifties, he has recorded a 50-plus score in each of the matches, and led England’s massive turnaround. But the breezy 113 in the penultimate game to level the series would count as perhaps the most stellar knock he has played in a while.
Maybe it is a bit too early to herald a new beginning for English cricket, but this purple patch that Morgan has struck is encouraging to say the least. His promotion up the order has helped greatly, and England have now found a dependable batsman at the crucial No. 4 position. He has also been able to extract the best out of the current batch of youngsters, and the likes of Joe Root and Jos Buttler have really shone under his captaincy.
After all the drama that has surrounded England cricket in the last few months, this performance would be like a breath of fresh air for the fans. Away from the selection issues and the public criticism, the England team has played an aggressive brand of cricket to resurrect its image. Eoin Morgan is also in the process of making amends for the disastrous World Cup, and has done it successfully so far. His leadership will be crucial in reshaping the side in the future, for better or for the worse. If he continues in the same vein, England could be well on course to their first ODI series victory since beating the West Indies in March 2014.