Eoin Morgan’s Personal Journey Is The Great Story Of England’s World Cup
It does not get any closer than that.
For Eoin Morgan and his men, the tournament ended in the most dramatic circumstances imaginable and England won their first ever Cricket World Cup.
The Irishman’s personal transformation has been at the centre of his side’s revolution over the past four years.
Within the camp, where Trevor Bayliss has never been universally popular, it is Morgan who has inspired England’s attacking brand of cricket, one which demolished Australia in the semi-final with 107 balls to spare.
They have the batsmen at their disposal, after all. Of a top five including Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root and Jos Buttler, Morgan actually has the lowest ODI average, and even that is over 39.
Such has been the success of that top order at this tournament that the one-day skipper may also have inadvertently solved one of the problems plaguing England’s Test set-up, despite playing no part in that format of the game himself.
Roy and Bairstow are now potential candidates to open the batting in the Ashes, though the former might also be brought in alongside Rory Burns, with Bairstow further down the order, as doubts remain over Keaton Jennings.
Morgan’s leadership could not be more different from Alastair Cook, from whom he took over ahead of the 2015 World Cup. The decision did not immediately bear fruit.
There were grumblings about his field placings – and discipline off the field, which have persisted over the past year amid Ben Stokes and Alex Hales’ respective scandals – and even doubts over whether he was of the calibre necessary with the bat.
Almost five years on, England are now primed for an era of dominance thanks to both Morgan the batsman, and Morgan the captain.
Incidentally, it is also just over four years on from Bayliss’ appointment. The Australian will step down in September, after the Ashes. It was always his intention to do so when his contract expired, regardless of how the team fared over the course of the summer.
One suspects that while, in a sense, Bayliss’ departure will be momentous, the retention of Morgan at the helm is what really matters going forward.
The feeling of his record-breaking innings against Afghanistan, in which he hit an unprecedented 17 sixes, can only have been beaten by the ecstasy he experienced at Edgbaston on Thursday when he hit the winning runs to lead England past the old enemy.
It would be an error to write off New Zealand, who lost the 2015 final by a margin but have already provided one of the shocks of the tournament by beating India to get here.
Yet it’s fitting too, that perhaps only Kane Williamson deserves to lift the trophy as much as Morgan.