Andrew Strauss, the former England captain, has said that the limited-overs incumbent Eoin Morgan has earned the right to decide if he wants to continue as England captain in the shorter formats.
Under Morgan’s leadership, England created history by lifting the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup trophy for the first time in 44 years of the tournament, following a dramatic conclusion to the final against New Zealand at Lord’s.
England don’t have a white-ball game coming up in the near future, as they gear up for the five-Test Ashes series, which begins on 1 August, next. England’s next limited-overs assignment is a five-match T20I series against the side they beat in the World Cup final, New Zealand, in the latter’s home. Their next ODI is even further away, in February 2020, when they visit South Africa for a full tour.
It is unclear, and perhaps unlikely, that Morgan, who is 32 now, would be around for the next World Cup, in 2023 in India. However, there is a strong likelihood of him captaining England at next year’s T20 World Cup in Australia, which takes place in October. Either way, Strauss said that the decision is wholly Morgan’s to make.
“The question for him is what he wants to achieve here, because he has climbed Everest. That is the question for all the players, because we have made mistakes in the past,” Strauss said. “We’ve won Ashes series and got to No.1 in the world and thought that was the end in itself. We have to find a way of making this a launchpad for something bigger and better, and that is a huge challenge.
“I certainly hope that what he is doing right now, unless he is absolutely clear he wants to carry on, is just taking a bit of time to reflect where he is at. To stay on as captain, he needs to be driven and motivated to push people on as he has done over the last four years, and if he has the bit between his teeth, then we’ve seen just what a fantastic leader he is.”
Strauss had similarly backed Morgan after England’s group-stage exit in the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. After Morgan’s side was eliminated following comprehensive defeats to New Zealand, Australia and Sri Lanka in the first round, Strauss was appointed as team director, and one of the first and major decisions he made in his role was to let Morgan continue as captain.
Four years on, Strauss’ faith in his captain has been vindicated. Morgan’s temperament has been highly acclaimed and his leadership has been one of the central forces behind the World Cup triumph. Explaining his decision to retain Morgan after the 2015 World Cup exit, Strauss said that Morgan was a “natural” choice to carry on as captain, as his style of leadership tied in well with the brand of cricket that the England and Wales Cricket Board had identified as essential to turn around their limited-overs credentials.
“I was watching the last World Cup, working for Sky, and I was genuinely angry [about] what I’d seen,” Strauss said. “Not because of anything those guys were doing, but the same mistakes made in the two previous World Cups that I’d been involved in, and prior to my time as well, were being made again: playing the wrong brand of cricket, picking Test players and hoping they’d put some of the best one-day players in the world under pressure.
“I still remember my quotes from the 2007 World Cup that two threes are as good as a six. That was trying to justify something that you just couldn’t justify. To me, and this was before I was appointed director of cricket, we just could not do this again.
“Once I was appointed director of cricket, it was a case of, well, if we’re going to prioritise one-day cricket, what do we need? If we want to play that type of style, who is the right captain to embody that?
“That led me very quickly to Eoin Morgan. He has always been a guy who hasn’t been afraid to do things his own way and to stick out from the crowd. He always had a very strong friendship with Brendon McCullum and instinctive desire to want to play that high tempo cricket. You can’t force anyone to do that, it’s got to be very comfortable with them. So it was natural that he would carry on.”
Though he had himself said that he hopes Morgan continues in his role, calling him the “best captain we’ve ever had”, Joe Buttler is the most likely candidate to replace him, should Morgan decide to step down, and Strauss reaffirmed that view.
“I think Jos is an outstanding cricketer and outstanding person,” Strauss said. “He reads the game very well. So if there is a vacancy, he is going to be a very strong candidate.” (Courtesy ICC)