Being the England cricket captain and deciding, under immense pressure, not to tour with the rest of your teammates in Bangladesh will not have been easy for Eoin Morgan. If it was left simply to himself then it might have been a simpler process but he was told in no uncertain terms that he should be on the plane by his bosses at the ECB, whilst some will see the captain deserting the ship leaving his crewmates to battle the storm, rather than leading from the front.
Only Morgan will be fully understand his motives, although personally experiencing a bomb blast in India and adverse reports from Bangladesh prior to the all-clear given by the ECB’s own security chief will have played a major part in a decision that will, in all probability, have far-reaching consequences.
For all the assurances one cannot help wonder what will happen to Morgan’s career. Very much a white-ball specialist the former Irish international has given his selectors motivation not to pick him in the future, using playing issues as their reasons.
In a side packed full of exciting, high-scoring batsmen the one position in doubt was the captain himself, only because his own form paled in comparison. With Alex Hales and Jason Roy notching up the highest and third highest ever one-day scores by English batsmen, Joe Root scoring big half centuries for fun, Jos Buttler causing mayhem in opposing ranks and Ben Stokes batting with new-found maturity, Morgan may have been dropped had it not been for his captain’s armband.
Now he has provided two reasons to drop him for the tour to India. One, Jos Buttler may well produce a sterling job as the new England one day captain. And two, the long list of batsmen banging on the first team door now have a chance, beginning with Jonny Bairstow. Despite being one of the form batsmen of the summer the Yorkshireman was not in the first-choice England starting X1 in the white ball form. When he did get the chance to play against Pakistan he won the man of the match award in his first game, and contributed more than most in the second. Then there is the exciting Sam Billings, who gives Buttler a run for his money in expansive stroke-play. And then there is also Ben Duckett, the name everyone is talking about in English cricket.
Morgan will not be officially dropped because he chose to duck the tour to Bangladesh. But it will hard to believe this won’t come into it, especially if his replacements deliver.
Hales is the only other English cricketer to stay at home. In doing so he has more or less kissed goodbye to his test career. The chances were he would be dropped in any case after a poor summer, but now he has made the prospect of returning to the top of England’s test batting order that much harder. If the precocious 19-year-old, Haseem Hamed, takes his chance alongside Alastair Cook in Bangladesh then that will be that. He should still return to the ODI side courtesy of his 171 against Pakistan, but there will be a big black mark against his name.
Should there be? Doesn’t he and Morgan reserve the right to make decisions about their personal safety without the threat of losing their jobs? They do. And in many ways they should be respected for taking such a stance, especially Morgan knowing that he has so much more to lose.
But Eoin Morgan has always been his own man, whether in leaving Ireland for England, or refusing to sing the National Anthem, and now this.
The ECB will unofficially be hoping the English one day batters will score so heavily that it will be that much harder for them to recall their former captain.
Whatever happens we should be grateful for one thing. It was Morgan who played a bigger part than anyone in dragging English one day cricket into the modern, fast-scoring fashion and for that we should be eternally grateful.