Eoin Morgan: England’s white ball captain departs as ‘an immortal of English sport’

It’s one thing to excel in sport, it’s another to change the way a nation plays it.

As Eoin Morgan ends his international career, he retires not only as the World Cup-winning captain, England’s all-time leading Twenty20 and one-day run scorer, but also the architect of fundamental change in English cricket. that may never be invested

For his impact on the game in this country, Morgan is unrivaled in his generation.

The Irishman dragged England cricket from bland black and white into glorious Technicolor.

Under Morgan, England have broken the world record for the highest total in a one-day international match three times. Before being captain, England had passed 300 31 times in 633 ODIs. Under his leadership, it was 53 of 131.

This was not only a radical improvement in on-field results, turning a chaotic team into world champions in the space of four years, but it altered the entire attitude towards cue-ball cricket.

For better or worse, the world has changed with the rise of franchise leagues, international teams that play a greater number of limited matches, and with it, a style of play that influences longer forms.

The English game used to treat limited-overs cricket like a parent changing a baby’s nappy: it has to be done, so hold your nose and hope you don’t get your hands dirty.

Morgan, backed by former director of cricket Andrew Strauss, made English cricket embrace the white-ball game with open arms, perhaps even tipping the scales too far the other way, depending on your point of view.

The result has been a depth of talent, particularly explosive hitters, that is the envy of the world.

Morgan’s style of leadership, backing his players to the max and encouraging them to be aggressive no matter the situation, is now bleeding into the England Test squad. The ‘Bazball’ revolution under Morgan’s new coach and great teammate, Brendon McCullum, could easily be Morganball.

Test captain Ben Stokes has spoken of his desire to emulate Morgan. There have been many others who have described the 35-year-old as the best skipper they have ever played for, even when on trial duty with another captain.

At a time when English cricket has struggled with diversity, Morgan embraced and celebrated the variety of backgrounds his team came from.

After the World Cup was won, he revealed that Muslim spinner Adil Rashid had told him, “Allah was with us.”

In the field he gave little away, his face often hidden behind sunglasses and a cap. Or even multiple hats: During the pandemic, Morgan was the top hat stacker in the game.

If a bowler was under pressure, one of the captain’s tricks was to take the ball out of their hand while speaking to them, hoping it would help with a restart.

Morgan the captain, not only England’s first World Cup winner over 50, but only India’s great MS Dhoni can match his 72 T20 caps as captain, dwarfs the achievements of Morgan the batsman.

After making his debut for Ireland as a 19-year-old, scoring 99 against Scotland before it ran out, Morgan was already a veteran of 23 ODIs when he first played for England in 2009.

With seemingly double-jointed wrists that swept, scooped, and lobbed the ball in 360 degrees, he was a visitor from the future, playing shots that are commonplace now, but barely imagined back then.

Morgan’s crowning glory was the 2019 World Cup century against Afghanistan that put the Old Trafford crowd in jeopardy with 17 sixes, which remains the record for most in an ODI innings.

His 13 tons for England is second only to Joe Root and 202 sixes is miles ahead of any of his team-mates, nearly 60 more than Jos Buttler.

As part of the team that won the 2010 T20 World Cup, he was good enough to take two centuries in 16 Tests played between 2010 and 2012, averaging 30.4 amassing reasonably well against most players England have tested since. then.

Morgan was part of the Strauss team that won the Ashes in Australia and climbed to the top of the world rankings. When Alastair Cook’s position as captain came under threat in 2014, there was talk of Morgan as a possible replacement.

It’s a decline with the bat and the creak of an aging body that has prompted his retirement.

England’s results put no pressure on Morgan, but he has only managed half a century in his last 26 innings and admitted back-to-back matches were becoming a physical struggle.

While Morgan the leader still commanded the unwavering respect of his teammates, Morgan the slugger was struggling to hold off a group of young suitors.

He had been desperate for England to become double world champions, adding the T20 crown to his title of over 50 years. The pandemic robbed them of their chance in 2020 and they were beaten as semi-finalists at the 2021 World Cup when they were probably the best team in the tournament.

Another tilt in Australia later this year would have been a fitting swan song (his wife Tara is Australian), but it turned out to be a bridge too far.

England will move on with a new captain and manager, Matthew Mott, but Morgan’s influence will live on. His batting will make them a terrifying prospect for whoever they face in Australia, but injuries have sapped the bowling pace. There is little more than a year left for the defense of the World Cup over 50 in India.

As for Morgan, he will continue to play for London Spirit in The Hundred and has already immersed himself in the world of lore. He will be franchises around the world willing to hire him as a coach.

Even if he accomplishes nothing else in the game and decides he’d rather spend his time pursuing his love of horse racing, his legacy is assured.

Morgan designed that unforgettable and incredible day at Lord’s in 2019, one of the greatest moments in the sporting history of this country.

Only two other men, Sir Bobby Moore and Martin Johnson, have lifted a World Cup as England captains in football and rugby respectively.

Morgan sits next to them like an immortal of English sport.

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