Duck, Duck, Excuse: Captain Morgan's On Shaky Legs As England Form Leaves Doubts

Two ducks in two ODI matches vs the Netherlands has caused concern for the skipper
07:00, 21 Jun 2022

We have seen two sensational ODI performances from England in the Netherlands. After hitting a world record 50-over total of 498 in match one, they followed it up with another convincing win in Amsterdam to seal the series. 

But the flying form of the team has meant that captain Eoin Morgan has stood out like a sore thumb, and not in a good way. His back-to-back ducks against an inconsistent Netherlands side has raised serious doubts about his place in the world-class batting line-up. 

It’s important to separate Morgan the captain from Morgan the cricketer. As a captain, he has been fantastic for the one-day side. He has helped transform a team that was poor at the 2015 World Cup, into world champions four years later in the most dramatic fashion. 

That day at Lord’s will be the legacy of Morgan’s one-day team and is unlikely to be beaten for sporting drama by any England cricket side of the future. But where does the 35-year-old sit amongst his peers in 2022? 

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The rest of his teammates are right behind him, vehemently so. Jason Roy, who was presented with his 100th cap by the captain ahead of the second ODI, believes the selfless batsman puts the team first on every occasion. 

"We won the game so [Morgan] puts [the duck] to bed straight away. As soon as the result is there, he's happy," said Roy, who added that he was backing his captain "for sure".

"He's the perfect guy to give it [100th cap] to you," Roy added. "You're not judged by your cricket in this group, you're judged as a person and the energy you bring, how hard you work. If he went on [speaking] for a minute longer, there might have been a tear or two."

The scorecard for the first ODI made for embarrassing reading for both Roy and Morgan, as three England players made centuries and Liam Livingstone hit an unbeaten 66 in 22 balls. Roy recovered with 73 in the second match, but the captain was once again scoreless as his poor form continued. 

Graphic from Cricinfo
Graphic from Cricinfo

He has made just one half-century in international cricket over the last 18 months, and none in domestic T20 cricket. While others around him flourish, he has suffered as a result of an injury suffered in January and a lack of short-form cricket over the Covid period. 

Although the games against the Netherlands have allowed England to shake off any cobwebs, the real challenges will come against India and South Africa in July, as preparations for the World Cup in October ramp up. England are currently 3/1 favourites to win their first T20 World Cup since 2010 and Matthew Mott, the new white-ball coach has fully-supported Morgan despite his poor form. 

"He always says he wants to be picked as a batter in that team on form and merit all the way through and when he feels that's not the case then he would step aside," Mott said in a press conference. "I think that's a long way off being at that point.

"Great players go through runs at different times and sometimes you flick a switch and it turns and you wonder what all the fuss has been about. You can tell when he speaks, everybody is listening. That leadership is something that's probably not as recognised as much from the outside as it is inside. He's got a lot of great cricket ahead of him."

Morgan himself has been reflective in recent weeks on his own performance, and with England looking to defend their 50 over crown in India next year, the captain is unsure as to whether he will still be leading the team in the winter of 2023.

"That's a long way away. I need to get to the T20 one first. I'm going to take it as it comes, managing my contribution, my body. Am I still contributing on and off the field, within the team? I will be as honest as I [have been] with everybody since I started the captaincy. At the moment, I still feel like I contribute and still feel like I can contribute to a World Cup win. That's an important drive for me."

*18+, terms and conditions apply, odds subject to change. 

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