‘Focus should now shift to T20 cricket’ - Eoin Morgan
It might have been a mixed bag for England over the past couple of months—the sheen of a maiden World Cup win slightly smudged by Australia retaining the Ashes in England for the first time since 2001. But for their limited-overs skipper Eoin Morgan, the 33-year-old delivered exactly what the nation hoped for after they crashed out in the group stages in the 2015 World Cup.
Speaking to Hindustan Times on the sidelines of a Sony Pictures Sports Network event, Morgan emphasised the need to now switch focus back to T20s, besides heaping praise on England’s star performers Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer.
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How would you rate England’s summer so far?
It’s been extraordinary; particularly the World Cup win and the dramatic fashion in which we won it—that has catapulted the profile of the game back in the British publics’ eyes. I think around the world people really enjoyed watching the World Cup. From then, the goodwill and support that continued throughout has gone into the Ashes. I think it was played in magnificent spirit, extremely competitive and the standard of cricket was extremely high.
It has been a great season for Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer too. Your thoughts…
Since Jofra started playing international cricket, he’s gone better and better and I think he will continue to do so. He’s a talented guy who has so much to offer. I think everybody enjoys watching him bowl. And Ben’s summer has been extraordinary! His heroism throughout the World Cup and the final in particular is extraordinary. And the fact that it has continued into the Ashes I think is just heroism at its best—the innings that he played at Headingley in the third Test match was truly remarkable.
What sort of a mental pressure does it put on a playing a World Cup and an Ashes consecutively at home?
I think it’s that change of mindset, different format, different challenge, different team and it’s the Ashes. It’s the pinnacle of a Test match career, so I think it was a huge challenge…
Then the ECB director of cricket, Andrew Strauss had said after the 2015 debacle that white-ball would be priority coming into this year’s WC. A similar approach till World T20?
Yes! I think the mindset has to shift and the focus has to shift towards T20 cricket. I think for the last four years, our priority has been the 50-over game. And we have seen T20s as opportunities to blood new players and give them experience. And, I think 50-over cricket for the next year might facilitate that.
But how does one fine-tune given both formats are limited-overs?
I think bearing in mind everyone’s ability; we have a lot of guys that can bat and bowl in different areas. I think one of the extremely successful things that we did in the 50-over game was to identify everybody’s role. And everybody became very good at that particular role. And trying to get that right for the T20 format is extremely important. You might have the best team but if it’s not working together and working the right way, it’s no better than anybody else.
36 300-plus totals, four 400-plus totals between the two World Cups… The emphasis on batting was evident. Will there be a shift towards the bowling unit as well?
I think the shorter the format gets, the more the bowlers come into the game. And not a lot of people recognise that. But (if) you’re trying to stop runs from being scored, the best way to do it is take wickets. And you need guys who can take wickets at different stages and you need to find those guys and give them the best possible place to bowl.
What was it like playing under coach Trevor Bayliss?
Trevor was a great coach. He came with a great reputation; fantastic record in New South Wales, Kolkata Knight Riders and with Sri Lanka as well. And I think coming in and overseeing our journey over the last four years, he’s done a magnificent job. And his future as a coach still looks extremely bright. He’s with the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL so we wish him well there and I think one of his biggest attributes is his ability as a coach to be able to take that pressure off you as a player and remain focused on the simple things that matter.
With the inception of the Test Championship, the Ashes, etc. Has the thought of playing red ball cricket ever crossed your mind?
2012 was the last time I played a Test. And since then I tried to get back in for two years…I’ve played county cricket and tried my best and I wasn’t good enough. I went on a couple of tours and didn’t get an opportunity, which happens. But I haven’t been good enough to get back in. No, don’t want to play Tests.