Eoin Morgan has backed himself to rediscover his form with the bat after a chastening time in the recently concluded Indian Premier League, and pledged to drop himself if he fails rather than hobble England’s chances of success at the Twenty20 World Cup.
Morgan’s form has been fragile for some time – he averages 14.5 in the 37 Twenty20 innings he has played over nearly a year since his last half‑century, covering the English summer, internationals last winter in South Africa and India and the IPL, both before and after its Covid-enforced mid-season interruption.
However, since that competition resumed in September – having been relocated to the United Arab Emirates, where the World Cup will also be played – Morgan has endured a fully formed slump, with a top score of 13 not out and an average of 6.8 over nine innings. Despite his personal struggles he still managed to captain Kolkata Knight Riders to the final, where they lost against Moeen Ali’s Chennai Super Kings.
“I’ve been short of runs but my captaincy has been pretty good,” said Morgan. “I’ve always managed to treat them as two different challenges. 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’ve ever had.
“The nature of Twenty20 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 the nature of the job so I’m going to continue taking those risks if the team needs them – if they don’t, I won’t.”
With England’s squad brimming with run-scoring potential, Morgan admitted that he might have to consider leaving himself out of the team. “It’s always an option,” he said. “I’m not going to stand in the way of the team winning the World Cup.”
England play New Zealand in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday in their final game before starting their World Cup campaign against West Indies on Saturday. The format for this year’s competition differs from previous Twenty20 world championships in that the second group stage, which initially involved four-team mini-leagues before growing for the last two competitions to five, has expanded again so that each group now features six sides, with the top two qualifying for the semi-finals.
“With the new format I suppose you don’t have to be [in your best form] coming into the tournament. There’s a little more leeway,” Morgan said. “In previous years getting out of the group stage was extremely difficult. It’s similar to the [50-over World Cup in] 2019, where the group stage games were nine and everybody played everybody. It sort of eliminates a banana‑skin potential.”
Another significant novelty for this tournament compared with most since the outbreak of the Covid pandemic is that players’ families have been able to join them. “Previously when families could come and go when they pleased without there being any Covid measures to consider, it’s safe to say we all took it for granted,” Morgan said.
“I think having them around has been excellent. Bubbles are getting more lenient but it’s a quite considerable period of time we have been adhering to all of these rules. I don’t think they can last much longer, because it’s just not sustainable to ask human beings to do this and then go and perform well at a high level.”
England lost in the final of the last T20 World Cup in 2016 and won the 50-over version at home in 2019. Nine of their 15-man squad for this tournament are veterans of that success. “I think we take a lot of confidence from that,” Morgan said.
“It builds a lot of confidence and reinforces that the cricket we’re playing is the direction we want to be going as a white-ball group. We’re always trying to push the limits. I think not only this World Cup but next year’s as well, there’s a real chance of being contenders.”