Zen Master: Eoin Morgan leaves behind lasting legacy with England’s T20 World Cup victory in Australia

England’s T20 World Cup win under the leadership of Jos Buttler was incredibly. A comeback victory from the verge of getting knocked out from the competition England’s campaign was special, and it is time that Eoin Morgan, England’s former captain, get his due for it.

By Kingshuk Kusari: “He (Eoin Morgan) had the chance to become the T20 World Cup winning captain but someone blew that up,” Stokes had the Sky panel in splits after England’s T20 World Cup win. The all-rounder referred to himself, bringing back the memories from 2016 – a time when England had just learnt the ways of modern white ball cricket.

The context was important, so was the joke, because England’s T20 World Cup win at the Australian shores had the mark of one monumental individual – Eoin Morgan. Born in Ireland, Morgan plied his trade later with England and rose to fame after the country’s disastrous 2015 ODI World Cup campaign. Morgan shot to fame with his number-crunching, risk-assessing methods that saw a rapid rise of England’s white-ball game.

Suddenly, a team that could not beat Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Bangladesh and Australia in the ODI format had reached the finals of the tournament in 2016. Overwhelming favourites to clinch the title even till the final over at Eden Gardens, the dreams fell apart when Ben Stokes was hit for four sixes by Carlos Braithwaite.

But something stuck with England that night as Morgan wrapped his arms around Stokes’ shoulders, that these boys were here to stay.

Rebuilding the Ruins

Speaking after the T20 World Cup 2022, Harbhajan Singh lauded England. The Indian World Cup winner said that Rohit Sharma’s team needed to learn how to play the white ball formats from the English side.

And why not. Since 2015, here are England’s results in the white-ball format under the captaincy of Eoin Morgan (till 2021) and Jos buttler

2016 T20 World Cup – Final
2019 ODI World Cup – Winner
2021 T20 World Cup – Semi-final
2022 T20 World Cup – Final

It is quite possible that this team runs deep once again in the 2023 edition of the ODI World Cup as well, set to be hosted by India.

The New Era Brand

Under the leadership of Eoin Morgan, England found a perfect mechanism. The players were selected to make the team bat as deep as possible, and a bowling unit, diverse enough to attack and control whenever necessary.

The brand under Morgan in general was, if you come to bat first, put on a mammoth amount of runs and then defend it as hard as you can.

Since Morgan took over, England broke the record for the highest total in a men’s ODI match thrice, once in 2016, next in 2018 and then as recently as 2022. And that essentially became the brand, score a heap of runs and then defend it well.

Eoin Morgan comes out to bat. (Courtesy: Reuters)

It is said that when batters failed for England, Morgan would go into the dressing room and say that “Don’t worry, you will get the big runs next time.”

This gave the team confidence to play fearless cricket, which has brought them their results today. That confidence translated into what Buttler did to Naseem Shah in the final of the T20 World Cup.

After nearly getting edged out by the pacer four times in an over, Buttler proceeded to lap the bowler for a six over fine-leg.

“I stood there that Naseem Shah overplay and miss. Play and miss. And [Buttler says] I can’t play him normally, so I will scoop him for a six. Ridiculous! (Laughs),” Stokes could not help but laugh at the situation.

Fine-tuning all the Time

A squad cannot remain static and Morgan understood better than the most. As a person fascinated by data, Morgan’s ability to come up with multiple plans was exceptional. England, under his era built up a pool of specialised player that could deliver at any given point – but with their own specific style.

Take the example of Jofra Archer.

While Indian bowling attack lost their bearings after the injuries to Jasprit Bumrah and Ravindra Jadeja, England had been playing without Jofra Archer – possibly the most threatening bowler in the current era for over a year.

With Mark Wood as his replacement, Jofra was not needed. However, thunderstruck when Mark Wood was ruled out due to body stiffness in the semi-final and final match of the 2022 World Cup, and what were the results?

A win by 10 wickets vs India and then a 5-wicket victory vs Pakistan. At the heart of it? Chris Jordan, who neither has the fear factor of Wood and Archer, nor does he have the raw talent.

England exploited Jordan’s defensive bowling capabilities and attacked with the swing of Sam Curran. The team further did well to bowl Adil Rashid and Liam Livingstone to get as many over out as possible. Against India, that worked, and against Pakistan, Sam Curran stole the show.

Buttler continues the legacy

It is an incredible achievement to win the World Cup, it is possibly even better if you can do it within an year into the captaincy tenure. Buttler’s take over to the team in 2022 rang alarm bells in terms of combination and selections. The start was rocky and some hard calls were made.

Buttler axed Morgan’s trusted lieutenant Jason Roy and brought in the exiled Alex Hales. Stokes speaking to Sky after the win pointed out that one should not take Buttler’s tactical acumen for granted and that he had taken 95 per cent of the decisions correctly in the T20 World Cup campaign.

A Captain Forever

Transitioning is not easy, especially for captains of Eoin Morgan’s stature. However, for the English World Cup winning captain, his final call became a masterstroke. Morgan letting go of his mantle after playing Ireland, just months away from the World Cup, gave England enough time to think.

Make no mistake, the foundation of England’s T20 World Cup win was laid by Eoin Morgan – the Zen Master who could see in the future.

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