From a team which was known to play on the back-foot, to a force which now sets a benchmark with their fearless approach to the game – Eoin Morgan’s England team has taken giant strides in ODI cricket in the last four years. The English skipper believes that the change in personnel in the ODI setup, has changed things drastically for the current World Cup hosts.
“With the bat, you needed to be able to post 330-350, so to choose guys whose default mode was pure aggression was something we highlighted in selection,” Morgan told BBC Sport. “We identified guys with a lot of talent who would fit the mould; guys who if they did get knocked back at some stage, they would come back harder.”
Morgan believed that being given an opportunity to continue leading the side post the 2015 World Cup, helped him to reaffirm ideas.
“The phone call from [England director of cricket] Andrew Strauss was a huge confidence booster for me. He gave me absolute clarity that we needed to change things drastically and he would give us time to change them,” he added.
The England team appeared to be different unit altogether during the 2015 home series against the then World Cup finalists, New Zealand, beating them 3-2 in a high-scoring affair. Morgan praised his friend Brendon McCullum, adding that the former New Zealand skipper’s methodologies were a huge inspiration for him as a leader.
“If you look at his [McCullum’s] body language at any stage of any game it’s extremely positive, he’s always on the front foot and leading from the front regardless of the scoreboard or the situation of the game. I like to pick his brain. As a pure leader, he’s exceptional. New Zealand cricket had embodied playing fun cricket under McCullum. Playing against them, we were a little bit jealous.”
“We weren’t enjoying our cricket and that was something we wanted to change. Transforming your game from an average-scoring side to one who scored 350 or 400 is extremely exciting and fun to be part of,” said Morgan.
The Ireland born cricketer further added that enjoying the game and backing the players continuously helped them build a solid unit in these four years.
“We had to accept it would take time and develop trust by selecting players continuously, providing they played for the team with that one goal of trying to win the game with the bat or ball. If guys went for runs with the ball, as long as they stuck to trying to get wickets they would continue to be selected. That has been worth its weight in gold because it has developed a lot of trust between the coach, captain and the players.”
Having lost their first warm-up match narrowly to Australia, England meet Afghanistan in their second warm-up game on Monday before facing South Africa in the tournament opener on 30 May.