Hussain: Revolutionary Morgan is England’s greatest white-ball captain

Sky Sports‘ Nasser Hussain examines the impact Eoin Morgan has had on English white-ball cricket – both as a player and a captain – following his retirement from all forms of the game…

It goes without saying that Eoin is England’s greatest-ever white-ball captain, a World Cup-winning captain. He changed the culture of English white-ball cricket, not only at the top but all the way through.

If you look at where we were at the 2015 World Cup in Australia when we lost to Bangladesh to where we are now, the change is remarkable.

It’s got to a stage where you’re not just looking at the players that they pick but the quality of those who are missing out, especially with the bat. A lot of that is down to the change in culture from Morgan.

He’s cool, calm and was a hugely-respected captain in and out of that team. He’s crystal clear at all times in his thought process.

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Watch the best bits from Morgan’s last England ODI century from 2020 against Ireland

‘Morgan at the heart of England’s white-ball turnaround’

It’s a little bit like Brendon McCullum now with the Test team. Morgan learnt a lot from him in that 2015 World Cup, they’re very close friends and he spoke to him about how New Zealand were playing at the time and took that on board.

But his success came from that crystal-clear approach and never doubting himself.

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I interviewed him back in the summer of 2105 at the Ageas Bowl when England were bowled out in 45 overs.

Ian Smith and Mikey Holding were in the commentary box talking about batting the overs. I put that to Eoin and he was not interested in that approach. He said ‘Next time we’re in this situation, we’ll go hard again’. And that’s what they did.

Fast forward a couple of years and they were getting a world-record 481 against Australia at Trent Bridge. The turnaround was just remarkable and Morgan was at the heart of it.

England captain Eoin Morgan lifts the World Cup
Image: Morgan led a white-ball revolution that took England to victory in the 2019 World Cup

‘Morgan kept calm amid the chaos’

He gave us one of the most special moments in English cricket with that World Cup final win at Lord’s, it was one of the great days. A great occasion and great finish with the Super Over.

Morgan had some fabulous white-ball players but he also gave them that carefree, no-fear cricket that they absolutely loved. You speak to every player that has played under him and they loved playing for him.

That is all you can really ask for as a captain, it’s not a popularity contest but they would look to Morgan on a number of occasions in difficult times. It’s what I liked about him, in the chaos that is white-ball cricket, Morgan just kept that cool, calculated demeanour.

England captain Eoin Morgan (PA)
Image: Morgan was ‘absolutely destructive’ at his best with the bat

You’ve also got to remember Morgan the player. He was revolutionary. He was playing all the shots we see now long before others were; reverse-sweeping, reverse-scooping and being dynamic. At his best, he was absolutely destructive.

At the 2019 World Cup against Afghanistan, he played an unbelievable innings and hit a record numbers of sixes. He was a dynamic one-day player who was ahead of his time. You can only have huge respect for him.

A version of this article was first published in June 2022 when Eoin Morgan retired from international cricket.


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