England’s limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan was at the forefront of his side’s 2-1 T20I series win over South Africa, hitting 136 runs across three innings at a strike rate of 170, with a match-winning 57 not out sealing victory in the decider.
On the latest episode of the Wisden Cricket Weekly Podcast, Wisden Cricket Monthly editor-in-chief Phil Walker, WCM magazine editor Jo Harman and Wisden writer Taha Hashim discussed Morgan’s recent run of form in T20Is.
Jo Harman: Let’s start with that run-fest of a series in South Africa. Phil, I believe your moment of the week came from that one.
Phil Walker: The way Eoin Morgan finished it off with fire in his eyes: 57 not out from 22. It’s his fifth not out in his last 19 [T20I] games. I’ve done a bit of stats research because the impression has been that he’s been batting better than ever in T20 cricket and the numbers are bearing that out. He’s broken back into the top 10 in the T20I rankings. He’s leapfrogged Virat [Kohli] as well. And at 33 and a bit, Eoin Morgan has an eye on the double. He’s clearly putting a lot of his energy into that tournament [the T20 World Cup] coming up later this year. He’s batting probably with more imperious control than he’s ever elicited before.
“Lessons can be learned, even from the most comprehensive of victories – and this series win, with both victories coming in the last over, was far from that.”@fwildecricket on where England stand eight months out from the start of the T20 World Cup. https://t.co/KlQSCRl62T
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) February 21, 2020
It reminded me in particular of what a player he is. Often when somebody becomes a captain, their talents with the bat get subsumed into the story of what they are as a leader and all of that. This obsession that we have with leaders in cricket is such, that sometimes we lose sight of just how good a player they are. And Morgan was the arch-finisher in the early part of the last decade when he emerged into that team as this sort of alien figure from nowhere, playing in a different way. And now he’s got that World Cup done, his legacy assured; he’s now almost freed up to demonstrate what a fine, brilliant player he is. He’s striking at 161 per 100 balls over the last 19 games played. He is now in that position where he is seeing games off.
JH: We talked last week about how furious he was after letting it slip in that first match and there was no chance he was going to do the same thing at Centurion.
PW: Yeah. And it would have been terrifying for the other teams watching it as well. Not just what Morgan did to see it off, but what happened up top as well with [Jos] Buttler smashing a 50-odd. Of course, [Jonny] Bairstow was excellent at three.
JH: And they even kind of slowed a little bit in those middle overs when [Dawid] Malan came in. It did make you think, what could they have actually chased there? That’s the class of Morgan: zero fours and seven sixes, which is…
PW: Yeah, it was a postage-stamp ground and there was a lot of wind blowing around as well. But yeah, when he hits it as clean as that – and the processes were so obvious as well. He was moving outside off stump to the full yorker, opening up his shoulders and just chipping it, in effect, over square leg. It was Morgan at his best and we keep seeing it now time after time. Any suggestion after the World Cup that he may just have shaken hands on the whole show, well, he’s clearly not built like that. And his game is in the kind of order that you would’ve hoped it would be at this point. He’s got one more big blow out to come and maybe even more than that.
Taha Hashim: And on that point, I think it’s funny how we’ve talked about Morgan for the last few years, because from that whole World Cup cycle, we talked about him as the leader. There were often question marks: if he was just a batsman, would he get into the side? Of course he does, really. But just because you had Buttler, [Ben] Stokes, [Jason] Roy and Bairstow; Morgan was kind of forgotten. He was just seen as that guy at the front.
But especially in this T20 side, the way he was batting with Stokes at the end of that third match – and while we now see Stokes as the main guy, he was taking his time to get in. And it was Morgan who just took away all the pressure. I think now we’re coming to realise again what’s been true for the last 10-something years: Eoin Morgan is still…
PW: He’s top rank.
You can listen to the full episode of the Wisden Cricket Weekly Podcast on the Podcast App or Spotify.