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Eoin Morgan: 'Captain's personality influences leading a team'

Eoin Morgan

Bengaluru, November 21: Eoin Morgan has been the driving force behind the change in England cricket landscape. Morgan has moulded the Three Lions into a fearsome white ball unit, that now enters any tournament as favourites.

Morgan will now be back to action in the Abu Dhabi T10, trying to tame another challenge. He will captain the Delhi Bulls in the tournament and here Morgan shares his ideas about captaincy, T10, the tournament and his team.

Excerpts:

On the importance of experience while leading in formats like T10, T20: I think, given the change in all formats of cricket and the effect of T20 cricket from 2003-2004, I think it’s extremely important, because to be at the forefront of any trend or change, I think it's driven by shorter formats so for a player to be able play in shorter formats, I think it’s essential for their development and to stay relevant.

On him managing the short form captaincy: I have a routine and leading any group of men obviously depends on the personality. The goals that you have set out as a team to achieve, to be able to deliver a clear message about that goal within the side and then to be able to show ability to drive the team towards that goal… think they are obviously very important things.

On the difference in leading England and a franchise: I think, both have their challenges. When you talk about leading your country, it’s normally over a longer period, you build longer and stronger bonds over the couple of years maybe towards leading to a World Cup or a Champions Trophy or maybe a Test series.

When it comes to a franchise team and lead over the period however short or long it is, you are trying to achieve that collective goal but trying to work with what you have at the time. So in franchise cricket, there are as many challenges but different ones than you come up against in international cricket.

On how to lead and win a T20/T10 tournament: I think, there is a little bit of formula. One of the toughest things to achieve is getting through the group stage, every team comes with great energy, ambition to achieve the same thing as you but making it a priority from the start regardless of if you don’t produce the best on that day and win that game is essential to win the group stage.

If you can achieve that and get to the other stages with experienced guys like (Dwayne) Bravo and Adil Rashid in later stages of the tournament, your experience is counted then.

On the pitches in the UAE: I think the pitch is good. We played a lot of IPL and the World Cup. We played a semifinal at this (Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi) ground as well. Last summer, the pitches were very similar to what they are now, so they are doing a hell of an effort to make good pitches. They are not drastically turning, the balls are skidding on. Actually, in the (T20 WC) semifinal, the ball swung a lot. So, maybe this time we will see a little bit of that in this event.

On the importance of bowlers in short formats: Yeah, I do. In all short format games, bowlers are key and I think the trend that grew more recently in T20 cricket is that wrist spinners are most effective when it comes to taking wickets. I think that will be the same throughout the tournament. I think that will cause more pressure.

If you face two dot balls, you feel like you need to start hitting a boundary right away, in a game so short (T10), you have to just come in and make an impact and there’s no time to settle in the game and you need to have the aggressive mindset from the start.

On T10 format being a vehicle for cricket to Olympics: I am always trying to bring in new ideas and grow the game even bigger. The Olympics is a huge opportunity to do that. Ever since I have played T10, it’s sort of eye-catching entertainment because I am a huge fan. All my family and friends watch the game and they go out and come back and watch another game.

“It's very fan friendly and if you are looking to sell our game to people who haven’t watched cricket before, I think it’s a really flexible way to do that. Introduce them to watch different formats and I haven’t found a better way than T10 for a format to play in the Olympics.

On the toughness to recover form in a busy format like T10: I think it is all about how you process things and understand them and move on from the games. A good example is the IPL campaign at KKR. At the beginning of the league we won two out of seven, we weren’t performing well and struggling as a team and then Covid hit.

“We all flew home and then six months later we joined the campaign in the UAE and we got all the way to the finals. Guys came with a fresh mindset and ambition and better understanding. A lot has to do with confidence, feeling comfortable with your own team and trying to wrestle back into the tournament.

On being a transformative player, captain for England: The biggest compliment to myself and my team is that during Covid this summer, 15 of the squad went into isolation and we had to pick a whole new squad. They came in and not only played well against a full fledged Pakistan side but they came out and played the brand of cricket that we have been playing.

“I and my wife were watching the game. I called Jos (Buttler) and other guys and said 'geez this is amazing this is great to watch. This is what it must be like when watching us’. It doesn’t matter what name is written on the back of the shirt. What we have achieved in the last six years, is to create more expectations around us because now we are looked at as favourites or second favorites in tournaments for years and years in my career.

“Even in the 2010 T20 World Cup we won in the West Indies, we were complete afterthought. Since we played in the Champions Trophy in 2017, we have been the favourites. We know we have a chance of winning, it's not a false hope or false anticipation. Those two things are huge compliments to what we have achieved as a group.

On leading Delhi Bulls in Abu Dhabi T10 Season 3: We sort of actually happened to fly straight into the tournament from New Zealand. We had quality players, it’s just that we didn’t perform well as one would like. Last season, I was watching on from Australia, my friends were in the tournament, it's actually comparable to NFL because I enjoy watching NFL too. T10 is like that, full of games, I kept an eye on the phone, kept an eye on the score. I obviously missed playing last year. So hopefully I will be able to make it up this year.

On the chances of Delhi Bulls in this edition of Abu Dhabi T10: We have a strong team and missing Jason Roy obviously hurts us. We have plenty of talent and are looking forward to it. Then we have Dwayne Bravo, who is one of the most experienced T20 cricketers in the world.

“You think how long he has been around and how many games he has played and the biggest factor that he is a winner and won competitions around the world and won the T20 World Cup as well. So he is going to be essential and hopefully achieving success with us too.

(Interview facilitated by Delhi Bulls media team)

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Story first published: Sunday, November 21, 2021, 9:47 [IST]
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