With speculation rife in British media that England's white-ball captain Eoin Morgan could step down from the role and retire from international cricket, former off-spinner Graeme Swann paid rich tribute to Morgan, saying that he won the national side a World Cup after nearly being an embarrassment in 2015 ODI World Cup.
Morgan was appointed England T20I captain in 2012 and of the One-day format in 2014, months ahead of the 2015 ODI World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, which ended with them crashing out in the group stages of the tournament. Post the low of the 2015 ODI World Cup, Morgan spearheaded England's amazing transformation in white-ball cricket, reshaping the ethos of the One-day side and leading them to their first Cricket World Cup win at home in 2019.
"The legacy is quite simple: we won a World Cup (in ODIs in 2019). We went from being almost an embarrassment in the 2015 World Cup even though Eoin was made captain for that. That wasn't Eoin Morgan's team; that was still the old school English One-day cricket with the old ideas and we were awful in One-day cricket, to be honest."
"We hadn't embraced the new-age way of playing the game; the ultra-aggressive approach and picking players who believed, made huge scores possible," said Swann while responding to a question from IANS in a virtual interaction organised by Sony Sports ahead of the Edgbaston Test between England and India.
Swann further explained how Morgan was given a free hand by then director of cricket and ex-England skipper Andrew Strauss on remodelling the One-day side in his way. "I don't know if you know this, but Eoin Morgan was given freedom by Andrew Strauss in 2015 to reshape English One-day cricket in his own vision, which was shared from his great friendship with Baz (Brendon) McCullum, who is now the head coach of our Test team. Basically, he realised that there was no point picking the Test team to play the One-day games."
Morgan is England's leading run-scorer in One-day and T20I cricket, with 6,957 and 2,458 runs from 225 ODIs and 115 T20Is respectively. "Picking the top five who could get hundreds in Test cricket was there in One-day cricket, but that was kept away and he picked exciting young players who had grown up playing white-ball cricket, always taking the aggressive approach and had the belief that they could do anything and score nearly 500 runs, which they nearly did two or three times, this England team. It's all down to Eoin Morgan and his leadership. I don't think we can overstate on how amazing he's been," stated Swann.
In recent times, Morgan has struggled with form and fitness, leaving him thinking about his international future. In England's 3-0 One-day series win over the Netherlands, Morgan made successive ducks and missed the third match due to a groin niggle while his last half-century in international as well as domestic cricket came during the first ODI against Sri Lanka in July last year.
"Of late, his form has suffered recently and after the games in Holland, I saw him say that his body wasn't responding well. I know exactly what that means as I have been in the same situation where your body lets you down and because of that, you can't justify your place in the team."
"I know Morgy (Morgan) really well; he won't just hang on and cling on because he can and because if he wanted to, he would definitely play for another World Cup and play for as long as he wants. But he's a proud man and he will know that he can't justify his place as a batsman or physically justify his place as an athlete in the team; then he won't play, he will stand down. I don't know if he's going to (retire); I have heard he might," elaborated Swann.
Swann remarked that Morgan should be quickly given a role in England's white-ball setup after his playing career is over. "It should be a real shame but it would be a testament to the great man he is, he wouldn't hang on for selfish reasons. He has done an incredible job and if he does stand down as captain and if he is not given a role immediately in charge of the same facet of the one-day game, that would be something crazy about English cricket."
Asked about his choice of Morgan's successor, Swann named Jos Buttler as his preferred white-ball captain. "He's been the vice-captain; he's been a phenom with the white-ball game. He's been incredible for Rajasthan Royals and I think he will be a great leader who can carry on what's Eoin left off. Jos Buttler, without a doubt."
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