I WILL play on: Eoin Morgan reveals he is rejuvenated by his break from the game and is still committed to leading white-ball side… and he could extend his reign to include a World Cup title defence in 2023
- Eoin Morgan insists he is still focused on captaining England’s white-ball team
- The Irishman skippered the side to World Cup glory at Lord’s last July
- Now, after a break from the game a rejuvenated Morgan is ready to do it all again
If there were any doubts Eoin Morgan still holds a statesmanlike grip on the England white-ball captaincy they were quickly dispelled on Wednesday when he ruthlessly dismissed the case for recalling Alex Hales before expressing his desire to march on at the helm of his side.
There was no sitting on a metaphorical Zoom fence when Morgan was asked whether the time was now right to forgive the disgraced opener who was banished on the eve of last year’s triumphant World Cup campaign for concealing the results of a drugs test.
Instead there were echoes of Kevin Pietersen about Morgan’s insistence it will take a lot longer than 12 months to rebuild a complete breakdown of trust and bring Hales back into a white-ball training group the captain said should not even be described as a squad.
A rejuvenated Eoin Morgan insists he is still focused on captaining England’s white-ball team
‘Trust is a complete feeling,’ said Morgan. ‘And it is demonstrated by things you say you are going to do and how you follow through with that.’ Basically the message was, you could have cost us the World Cup, Alex, so you can wait a bit longer.
Equally, there was little hesitation when Morgan was asked whether a global crisis that looks certain to begin playing havoc with the international calendar with the postponement of October’s Twenty20 World Cup in Australia will affect his longevity.
Not only does Morgan intend to fulfil his stated aim of leading England in the next two short-form global tournaments but he might now even extend his reign to include a defence in 2023 of the 50-over World Cup he lifted so dramatically at Lord’s last July.
‘This doesn’t change my view,’ said Morgan, speaking on the 15th anniversary of Chance to Shine, the charity he was due to support this season through his Middlesex testimonial before the world was put on hold.
Morgan (left) says Alex Hales (right) could still be some way away from an England comeback
‘For the simple reason that a lot of players will have benefited from this break. It’s not just physical but a complete mental refresh from the game we’re so involved with. I’ve certainly benefited from the break and I feel at the stage now where I want to pick up a bat again and I’m ready to go. That’s always a nice place to be.
‘I’m in a high-performance industry and if you’re not performing you can’t just carry on. But my ambition would certainly be to still play in the next two Twenty20 World Cups even if they are put back.’
The likelihood, which Morgan agrees with, is that this year’s tournament will be put back a year, with the next T20 tournament currently scheduled to follow on just a year later in India also needing to be postponed.
So that could then take place barely a year away from the next 50-over World Cup, also due in India. Surely it would be tempting to carry on even if Morgan will be 37 in 2023?
Morgan captained England’s white-ball team to World Cup glory at Lord’s last July
The 33-year-old struggled with back issues during the 50-ball tournament last summer
The captain smiled, albeit remotely. ‘A lot of it will depend on my body,’ said Morgan. ‘I just about got over the line physically at the World Cup last year because I had a little hiccup with my back. If it continues to get better then yes there could be a chance. But if it continues to deteriorate I can’t look beyond the two T20 World Cups.’
Perhaps the most encouraging feature of Morgan’s address on Wednesday was his faith in the way ECB are handling the coronavirus crisis and his confidence that the provisional international schedule they hope to confirm on Friday will go ahead.
That proposed schedule sees their three-Test series against West Indies, which should be signed off on Thursday, dominating July and three subsequent Tests against Pakistan taking up much of August. A separate white-ball squad will just play three 50-over matches against Ireland sandwiched between the two Test series and, if all is still well, T20 games against Pakistan and Australia in September.
‘I’ve been extremely impressed with the ECB and the medical staff appointed to map our route back to cricket,’ said the all-powerful Morgan. ‘Everything is transparent and at the forefront of that has been player safety and well-being.
Morgan (pictured) spoke with Sportsmail’s Paul Newman over Zoom about his future
Morgan is confident he will be able to lead England out at the next two T20 World Cups
‘Moving forward, everything looks extremely optimistic about playing in the timeline they are working on providing nothing changes between now and then.’
Morgan knows that, now one World Cup has been won and the attempt to win another will probably be delayed, his white-ball heroes will have to again take a back-seat to the Test team. For now England’s all-format players will concentrate on the red-ball.
‘There’s a strong chance of that,’ admitted Morgan. ‘We said even before the pandemic we would use the 50-over matches against Ireland to try to grow our squad of 15 players. We also planned to use them to give our senior players a break.
‘Now you look at how the schedule will be, and how compact it is, and we will have to see if anyone will be able to jump from one format and squad to the other. And I think it would be completely unreasonable to expect players to take part in every game. I think we can grow the white-ball squad while the Test side can still perform.’
Morgan was speaking ahead of an online event to celebrate 15 years of the Chance to Shine charity which has given 5 million children the opportunity to play and develop through cricket
For now cricket has got a great chance of resuming business on July 8, even if it is behind closed doors. ‘Every sport is really struggling but we are in a unique position where we don’t have a lot of contact,’ added Morgan. ‘Social distancing is part and parcel of playing cricket so we might get back earlier than other sports.
‘Safety is the priority but once that is ticked off I think as a playing group we’re prepared to commit to whatever cricket is possible. We will do whatever we can as players. There is more light at the end of our tunnel.’
Sadly for Alex Hales, though, the light at the end of that tunnel is red.
Eoin Morgan was speaking ahead of an online event to celebrate 15 years of the Chance to Shine charity. Since 2005, over five million children have been given the opportunity to play, learn and develop through cricket thanks to the work of the charity.
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