Former England captain Andrew Strauss believes that Eoin Morgan has earned the right to take a call on his future as England’s limited-overs captain, after leading them to their first ever World Cup triumph at Lord’s on Sunday, July 14.
England’s one-day credentials have changed dramatically post their disappointing exit from the 2015 World Cup. Under Morgan, they rose to the top of the ODI team rankings, before lifting the World Cup, after a historic final against New Zealand.
Morgan’s inspirational leadership has played a large part in that transformation. However, at 32 years of age, it is unlikely that Morgan would still be captain at the time of the next World Cup, which takes place in India in 2023. He may still lead them in next year’s T20 World Cup in Australia, but Strauss said that whatever he decides, Morgan has earned the right to have the final say on his future.
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“The question for him is what he wants to achieve here, because he has climbed Everest. That is the question for all the players, because we have made mistakes in the past,” Strauss said. “We’ve won Ashes series and got to No.1 in the world and thought that was the end in itself. We have to find a way of making this a launchpad for something bigger and better, and that is a huge challenge.
“I certainly hope that what he is doing right now, unless he is absolutely clear he wants to carry on, is just taking a bit of time to reflect where he is at. To stay on as captain, he needs to be driven and motivated to push people on as he has done over the last four years, and if he has the bit between his teeth, then we’ve seen just what a fantastic leader he is.”
England are set for a long break from limited-overs internationals after the World Cup triumph. They now have their eyes on the Ashes series, which begins on August 1 at Edgbaston. They don’t play white-ball cricket again until November, when they face New Zealand in a five-match T20I series away from home. England’s next ODI is only scheduled for February, as part of a two-month long tour of South Africa.
Should Morgan choose to step down in the interim, Jos Buttler, England’s current vice-captain, seems to be the most likely to take over. The wicket-keeper batsman however, hopes that Morgan, whom he regards as “the best captain”, continues for as long as possible.
“There is plenty of life in him yet,” Buttler said. “I hope [he carries on]. He has done an incredible job. He is the best captain we’ve ever had and all of us love playing under him. We are all very hopeful.”
Strauss reaffirmed that Buttler is the front-runner if Morgan does decides to step down. “I think Jos is an outstanding cricketer and outstanding person – he reads the game very well. So if there is a vacancy, he is going to be a very strong candidate.”
Strauss has always been vocal in his support of Morgan. After he was appointed as the team director in the aftermath of the 2015 World Cup debacle, the former opening batsman was given the responsibility of implementing a clear long-term vision, which was missing from England’s white-ball cricket. Though Morgan had also been captain in 2015, Strauss persisted with him, even as England overhauled their limited-overs strategy.
“I was watching the last World Cup, working for Sky, and I was genuinely angry [about] what I’d seen,” Strauss said. “Not because of anything those guys were doing, but the same mistakes made in the two previous World Cups that I’d been involved in, and prior to my time as well, were being made again: playing the wrong brand of cricket, picking Test players and hoping they’d put some of the best one-day players in the world under pressure.
“I still remember my quotes from the 2007 World Cup that two threes are as good as a six. That was trying to justify something that you just couldn’t justify. To me, and this was before I was appointed director of cricket, we just could not do this again.
“Once I was appointed director of cricket, it was a case of, well, if we’re going to prioritise one-day cricket, what do we need? If we want to play that type of style, who is the right captain to embody that?”
Strauss said that Morgan’s natural, instinctive desire to play aggressively made him the best possible candidate to lead the side.
“That led me very quickly to Eoin Morgan. He has always been a guy who hasn’t been afraid to do things his own way and to stick out from the crowd. He always had a very strong friendship with Brendon McCullum and instinctive desire to want to play that high-tempo cricket. You can’t force anyone to do that, it’s got to be very comfortable with them. So it was natural that he would carry on.”