T20 World Cup 2021 – Could England captain Eoin Morgan drop himself? ‘It’s always an option’

T20 World Cup 2021 – Could England captain Eoin Morgan drop himself? ‘It’s always an option’



Morgan says Liam Livingstone is “fully fit” after injuring his finger during the warm-up match

Eoin Morgan has said he would be willing to drop himself from the team if it increased England’s chances of winning the T20 World Cup. Morgan has been short on T20 runs this year, averaging 16.63 with a highest score of 47 not out from 35 innings, but his credentials as a captain – he comes into the World Cup off the back of leading Kolkata Knight Riders to the final of the IPL – remain unimpeachable.
Morgan, who confirmed that Liam Livingstone was “fully fit” despite injuring his finger while fielding against India, will have a chance to find some form in England’s second warm-up match, against New Zealand on Wednesday. He only reached double-figures once in nine innings during the second half of the IPL, but nevertheless oversaw an impressive turnaround in Knight Riders’ form as they came within a game of winning their first title since 2014.

“It’s always something I’ve said – it’s always an option,” Morgan said of the possibility of leaving himself out of the XI. “I’m not going to stand in the way of a team winning the World Cup. I’ve been short of runs but my captaincy has been pretty good, as it goes. So, yes is the answer.

“Not being a bowler and being a bit older and not contributing as much in the field, I’ve loved the role of captain. You get two bites at the cherry impacting the game. As regards my batting, I wouldn’t be standing here if I hadn’t come out of every bad run of form that I’d ever had. The nature of T20 cricket and where I bat means I always have to take quite high-risk options and I’ve come to terms with that. It’s just something you deal with, it’s the nature of the job so I’m going to continue taking those risks if the team dictates they need them.”

England are the reigning 50-over world champions and go into the T20 World Cup looking to become the first team to hold both trophies at the same time. They have enjoyed sustained success under Morgan and are currently ranked as the ICC’s No. 1 side in T20Is – although conditions in the UAE could work against them, with India the bookies’ favourites for the competition.

“I think it’ll be unbelievably special if we manage to do it,” Morgan said. “I think that the group of players that we’ve had together for the last five or six years, alongside some new, really talented and young guys coming through, who have really made a name for themselves, makes the composition of the squad extremely strong. Obviously playing away from home creates challenges, and for the first time since 2016 we’re going into a world tournament where we haven’t been favourites. So again, there are some challenges, but challenges that we’ve overcome in bilateral series on previous occasions, and challenges that we’re really looking forward to.

“We’re always trying to push the limits, we’re always trying to get better as a side, and since 2019 our cricket has been as consistent as ever, I think, in the T20 format which is extremely difficult to do when there’s been chopping and changing the whole time. And I think with the opportunity of not only this World Cup but next year’s as well, there’s a real chance of being contenders.”

Morgan also suggested that the slightly expanded Super 12s format, with the top two in each group of six progressing to the semi-finals, would give the best teams a greater chance, by lessening any “banana skin potential” before finding their stride.

“I think with the new format and the larger group as your first challenge throughout the tournament, I suppose you don’t have to be coming into the tournament as you think you might do in previous years, when one game might cost you qualifying,” he said.

“With more games it allows you to establish some form as a side and almost gather momentum into the tournament. Whereas I think in previous years, the tournaments that I’ve played – 2009 getting out of the group stage was extremely difficult, 2010 when we won was unbelievably difficult, likewise 2016 when we got to the final, we scraped through the group stages, and the two in between we were bundled out in the group stages. So I think there’s a little bit more leeway with this new format.”

England are set to wait until they see the surface that awaits them for their Group 1 opener in Dubai on Saturday before deciding on the make-up of their side, following Morgan’s experience at the same venues with Knight Riders during the IPL. He did confirm that England would be taking a knee alongside West Indies before the game, and were in discussions about the possibility of other gestures during the tournament.

“Going on from there, we’ve been speaking to the ICC about the potential moment of unity before the game, that we’ve been doing as part of our own piece at home. It hasn’t been cleared up yet whether that’s a possibility.”

Alan Gardner is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick


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