Eoin Morgan: The calm after the World Cup storm
- England captain Eoin Morgan speaks to Lounge about the World Cup win and keeping his composure and cool
- Morgan’s next big challenge is World Twenty20 tournament in Australia next year
Eoin Morgan, who recently led England to the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup title, has his own way of describing the final against New Zealand on 14 July. “What always sticks out—when I look back—is that there is no particular moment when we won or lost the game. There are so many times during the final where we handed New Zealand the game and it was theirs to lose. They handed it back to us and we handed it back to them...."
That strange tie—which went into the Super Over, had a bizarre overthrow, a catch taken over the boundary ropes and many other improbabilities—still gives Morgan goosebumps. It also gave the Irishman, who switched to England a decade ago to play top-quality international cricket, a legacy, of leading the country that birthed the sport to its first 50-over world title. England won the crown—on the basis of number of boundaries hit—after the final was tied at the end of 102 overs (including the two Super Overs).
At the JW Marriott in Mumbai, where Morgan was promoting the Abu Dhabi T10 league earlier this week, the short-form specialist batsman does not betray signs of jetlag or fatigue. He had arrived the previous morning and spent the day shooting commercials for the event. His schedule on the second day, when we met him, was also packed with promotional work. He was to leave the following day.
It has been 10 weeks since that final, and it’s hard for Morgan to describe the varying emotions he has experienced. But the overriding feeling has been exhilaration, the validation of the last four years (since the 2015 World Cup, where England did poorly). “I am quite pragmatic in the way I think," he says. “But, just given the drama of how the game unfolded, it took me time to actually think about what happened, how and why it happened. I have watched it many times."
After England lifted the trophy at Lord’s, the players walked around the ground and their families joined them in front of the iconic pavilion. The cricketers talked for about an hour and a half, reminiscing about the last four years, and “emotions were running high. Having guys of a certain age going through things, like having babies or getting married, it was great to have them (the families) involved—that’s one thing that stands out," Morgan says about the post-match atmosphere.
He laughs at the irony of beating New Zealand in the final, because it was their 2015 World Cup team—and then captain Brendon McCullum—that he had admired and tried to emulate. “The way they played is unique and the public related to them because they were being themselves," adds Morgan, who scored 371 runs in the 2019 World Cup, including a brutal 71-ball 148 against Afghanistan. “As a leader and captain, I have tried to be myself and that has rubbed off on everybody in the changing room. We definitely use them (New Zealand) as inspiration."
He does believe in luck though, all kinds of it, not just Irish luck. “I spoke about being asked (by teammate Adil Rashid during the final) if I am feeling lucky and I said I always feel lucky. I asked him if Allah is with us and he said ‘always’. And we started laughing. People of different backgrounds and cultures came together for one common goal—that’s beautiful."
One of the things that stood out during the World Cup was his calm, even during the potentially volatile final. Morgan and the composed rival skipper, Kane Williamson, were among the most likeable leaders in the tournament. Morgan insists it’s just the way he is. “That works for me—I make the best decisions when I am calm. I am then a better cricketer as well. I didn’t always perform like that—as a kid I was borderline hot-headed. If I had continued in that mentality, I probably wouldn’t be the cricketer I am today."
Morgan’s next major challenge will be the 2020 World Twenty20 in Australia, especially after England’s near-miss the last time. West Indies beat England in the 2016 final, with Carlos Brathwaite scoring the 19 runs needed to win in the last over with four sixes in four balls. The England team has 18 T20 games between now and the World T20, Morgan details, and a handful of One Day games. Incidentally, he believes, the shortest format of the game, the T10, has the potential to change the sport as it is the only format that could potentially feature in the Commonwealth Games or the Olympics.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) only recently announced that 33-year-old Morgan will lead the side at next year’s World T20 because the injured England captain needed time after the World Cup to think about his future.
The England players had 10 days off after the World Cup to celebrate their win. After that, Morgan went on to play for his county team, Middlesex, for three weeks. He recovered from his back injury and reached a decision about his future.
It does not include retirement. Not yet.
Arun Janardhan is a Mumbai-based journalist who covers sports, business leaders and lifestyle.