In the aftermath of the 2019 World Cup, Eoin Morgan was asked whether he will continue overseeing England’s journey and lead their title defense four years later. At the time, Morgan stood undecided, slightly hesitant to answer questions on his England future.
An individual very self-aware, Morgan’s reluctance was down to where he stood in his career. Approaching deeper into the thirties, Morgan didn’t want to leave his team on ageing shoulders and be a liability in the middle-order.
Disappointingly for Eoin Morgan, his worst fear has only played itself out since. The 34-year-old hasn’t been at his best for a while in white-ball cricket, with the record vindicating a sense of decline about his game.
Since the end of the World Cup two years back, Morgan has averaged only 34 in 10 ODIs and 30.17 in 24 T20Is for England. And though his strike-rate – 95.10 and 168.75 – has maintained on the higher side in both forms of the game, the consistency of run-scoring has gone missing.
In the initial two years of the cycle, when England would’ve hoped that they can trial out options and plug holes while their experienced heads ensure the results are taken care of, the form of their skipper is now a cause of worry.
England need Eoin Morgan back to his best
Two consecutive failures against a weak Sri Lankan T20I side only further reinforced the issue and also brought Eoin Morgan under scrutiny. At a time when he is struggling for form, Alex Hales – whose ouster for disciplinary reasons was triggered at his behest – is piling on runs in T20 cricket. On the day Hales struck a century in the T20 Blast for Nottinghamshire, Morgan managed a solitary run in Southampton for England.
To many, Hales’ continued absence is hurting England when they would be a better side with him around. Morgan’s loss of faith on Hales for discipline and conversations around it is something most of us aren’t privy to. But there is an irony in play certainly, as he himself failed to properly acknowledge his historic social media posts mocking his Indian fans’ English.
If Hales is in the wrong, Morgan seemed irresponsible and ignorant of his words recently. In direct contrast to his leadership virtues: a strong sense of respect, ownership, responsibility, awareness, clarity and also, pragmatism, especially while handling his weaker suit – bowling.
It’s with these traits at the helm that Morgan has led his team to great success for so long. And it’s these qualities that shall keep the England camp – the management and selectors – patient with him as he goes through an extended period of dip as a batsman. But for how much longer is the question? At a time when multiple young hopefuls are banging the selectors’ door, can England compromise with the productivity of one of their middle-order regulars?
Morgan will know, of course, the best way to put aside off-field issues and silence his doubters is to perform on the field. And England need him to do so. With his leadership still carrying immense value, England don’t want their skipper under any danger of losing his spot.