After a miserable couple of months in Australia for England’s Test team, Eoin Morgan’s white-ball renegades helped to lift the gloom with a record run chase in the first ODI at the MCG.
Jason Roy’s freewheeling 151-ball 180, a new record for an England batsman in an ODI, typified the approach of a team that has won seven of its last eight series in the 50-over format – a far cry from the embattled group of players who exited the 2015 World Cup at the earliest opportunity on their last visit to Australia.
In the latest issue of Wisden Cricket Monthly, out on January 19, Morgan talks about the pain of last summer’s Champions Trophy semi-final defeat to Pakistan, how his team can lift the World Cup in 2019 and the mystery of his own form.
“The semi-final was obviously a very difficult game for us against a strong team,” says England’s white-ball skipper, “and immediately after it had finished there was a huge amount of disappointment in the changing room, trying to figure out what had happened. Having looked back on it, and the performance Pakistan produced in the final, they were comfortably the best team in the tournament. Yes, we played some of our best cricket but we’re still nowhere near the best side in the world and you need to be able to put on performances like that at crucial periods.
“Form doesn’t guarantee how well you’re going to do [in a World Cup] but in theory we need to be ranked somewhere in the top three in the world and that will show over a period of time that we have sustained credibility and can go into games with a lot of confidence, thinking ‘On any day we can score 400 or chase down 350’. That’s a huge strong point for us, because we rely a lot on our batting.”
From a personal perspective, Morgan will be looking to rediscover the form which saw him hit three centuries in the space of eight innings in 2017, as well as scoring crucial half-centuries against Bangladesh and Australia in the Champions Trophy. By contrast, his last four ODI knocks have yielded only 30 runs.
“It’s so strange,” says England’s white-ball skipper as he considers his boom-or-bust record with the bat. “Yes, I drop in and out of form. I do well when I’m in form and I struggle horrifically when I’m out form.
“I’ve been trying to make those periods of bad form shorter. I haven’t put my finger on why, but the more games you play the more comfortable you become about not being in form. It’s a strange mentality to have but certainly when I was out of form in the first few years that I played international cricket I didn’t really want to bat – I knew I wasn’t going to get any runs.
“Compare that to now, and all I want to do is bat, because it’s the only way I’m going to turn things around. To change that mentality has taken a lot of time but it’s something I feel a lot more comfortable talking to other people about now, and I think that just comes with experience.”
To read the Eoin Morgan article in full, as well as an exclusive interview with AB de Villiers, you can buy your copy of Wisden Cricket Monthly here