England captain Eoin Morgan has said that the New Zealand side under Brendon McCullum was a source of inspiration for him as he led a change in the team’s approach to ODI cricket following the 2015 World Cup debacle.
“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,” Morgan told BBC Sport.
“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,” he said.
England were dumped out of the 2015 World Cup in the group stage and Morgan said that the defeat to McCullum’s New Zealand and to Bangladesh were the ones that stood out for him.
“We were humiliated. There are two games which stand out for me in that World Cup which confirmed we were underprepared and so far off the mark – the first one was against New Zealand. We were bowled out for 123 and New Zealand knocked them off in 12.2 overs.
“The second moment was the game against Bangladesh. We were chasing 275, and we were more than capable of chasing it down – it was on a good wicket and against Bangladesh, who we had beaten previously in a one-day series. When it came to every crunch moment in the chase, however, we fell short. We crumbled,” said the 32-year-old.
Morgan said that then England Director of Cricket Andrew Strauss’ decision to back him as captain was a “huge confidence-booster for him.”
“He gave me absolute clarity that we needed to change things drastically and he would give us time to change them. In the 2015 World Cup, there was a drastic change in the move towards higher scores. Scores moved from 300 to 330 on an average and that meant you had to change everyone’s default mode,” he said.
In the revamp that followed, the likes of James Anderson and Stuart Broad lost their places in the ODI squad and players like Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow and Adil Rashid were brought in.
“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. We identified guys with a lot of talent who would fit the mould; if they did get knocked back at some stage, they would come back harder,” he said.
The effect was immediate. England’s first series after the 2015 World Cup was against runners-up New Zealand. They posted 408/9 in the first match and won it by a whopping 210 runs. They would go on to win the series 4-2.
Since then, England have accounted for three out of the four 400-plus totals posted in ODI cricket and this included a world record score of 481/6 against Australia in 2018.
Hosts England go into the World Cup as one of the favourites and will kick off their campaign against South Africa on May 30.