Eoin Morgan credits 2015 World Cup for England's ODI turnaround
9 March 2015.
No England supporter is likely to forget that day in a hurry. It wasn't just that England lost a must-win game against Bangladesh and was going to be eliminated from the World Cup in the group stage but it was also the birth of a new era.
An era that will see England rise from the nadir to the zenith. An era that will see them break the world record for the highest ODI total twice in the space of two years. An era that will see them become ranked the No.1 ODI side in the world and head into the 2019 World Cup at home as one of the favorites to come away with the title.
The man who has guided England through that journey admits that the challenges he had to endure during and after the World Cup changed England for the better. Despite being thrust into captaincy just months ahead of the biggest competition in the world, he had to endure the ridicule that came along with England's group stage exit but admits that the tournament was crucial in getting England to where they are now.
"One of the biggest challenges was the 2015 World Cup. We got knocked out before making the quarterfinals, which was extremely disappointing. It was an extremely challenging time as captain but that World Cup played a big contribution in allowing us to turn our game around and turn the whole team around and hence we are in the position at the moment," says Eoin Morgan in an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda on the sidelines of the Mzansi Super League.
Led by Morgan, England approached the game with a fearless attitude that not only elevated them to the No.1 ranking but completely changed the perception of limited-overs cricket in England.
Often the estranged younger sibling and unworthy of the attention that Tests got, ODIs were often an afterthought in England. It didn't help that the team itself wasn't very good at the format and had never won the World Cup or the Champions Trophy.
But with a brand new attitude, Morgan's England began to scale heights hitherto unseen. In the three years since the World Cup debacle, England have crossed the total of 400 thrice in ODIs. In all the years before that, they had never done that even once.
Since the 2015 World Cup, no team has won more ODIs than England, who have won 51 out of their 77 matches and they are the only team to have won more than 50 games. They boast of the highest run rate during this period (6.23), almost half a run more than any other team.
Exciting, entertaining and effective. That is the new mantra for England and Morgan is happy about having changed the perception of limited overs cricket back home.
"I think it is quite cool. I think the cricket that we have played so far is extremely exciting. We have managed to post a couple of extremely high scores and win a few games with the bat, which normally wouldn't happen in previous teams. We relied solely on our bowlers so to be part of that change is extremely cool," he adds.
While there have been plenty of highs, including setting two world record totals in ODIs, the 32-year-old believes that there isn't one memory or highlight that sticks out to him from the journey they have gone through.
"I don't think there is one particular moment. Cricket lends itself to individual performances but for me, I don't see it that way. Everything we are doing as a team in England at the moment has been great fun, been challenging but also the best time of my career so I have thoroughly enjoyed it," says the 32-year-old.
Whether it was the result of playing hurling or the hours of hard work at Dulwich College, the southpaw was always destined for success at the international stage. But few could have foreseen what has happened to the 20-year-old turned out for Ireland in the 2007 World Cup. The lad from Dublin had secured Ireland's qualification for the 2011 World Cup before deciding to switch and play for England.
After a strong start, things didn't go according to plan and while he had represented England in all three formats, his Test career was floundering. Having last played a Test in 2012 and with his chances of getting a recall looking slim, he decided to focus on white ball cricket. While that decision didn't sit well with everyone at the beginning, it has worked out well in the end.
But ask the southpaw about whether it was a difficult decision to focus on only white-ball cricket and the answer is a resounding no.
"The journey my career has taken me on has dictated that. Since the last time I played Test cricket, everything about my career has geared towards white ball cricket. That's just the nature of where I suppose my game has gone," he explains.
With English white ball cricket at an all-time high and the World Cup around, hopes are riding high on their skipper, who is gunning for their maiden ODI title. As are the supporters who are hoping that the English side can make them remember 9 March 2015 for all the right reasons.