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Eoin Morgan is England’s greatest white-ball captain and revolutionary batter, says Nasser Hussain

Nasser Hussain

Cricket Expert & Columnist

“He changed the culture of English white-ball cricket”; Nasser Hussain has hailed Eoin Morgan as England’s greatest white-ball captain and a batter who was ahead of his time after the 35-year-old World Cup-winning skipper announced his retirement from international cricket

Last Updated: 29/06/22 6:18am

After Eoin Morgan announced his retirement from international cricket, Sky Sports‘ Nasser Hussain examines the impact the Irishman has had on English white-ball cricket – both as a player and a captain…

Eoin Morgan has had a huge impact on English cricket. It goes without saying that he 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 were a few years later and where we are now, the change is remarkable.

It’s almost 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 a hugely-respected captain in and out of that team.

Nasser Hussain says Eoin Morgan is a 'fantastic white-ball captain' after news broke that the England captain is set to announce his international retirement

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Nasser Hussain says Eoin Morgan is a ‘fantastic white-ball captain’ after news broke that the England captain is set to announce his international retirement

Nasser Hussain says Eoin Morgan is a ‘fantastic white-ball captain’ after news broke that the England captain is set to announce his international retirement

He’s crystal clear at all times in his thought process. 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 comes from that crystal clear approach and never doubting himself.

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 him, and he was not interested in that approach – ‘next time we’re in this situation, we’ll go hard again’ – and that’s what they did.

Morgan led a white-ball revolution that took England to victory in the 2019 World Cup

Morgan led a white-ball revolution that took England to victory in the 2019 World Cup

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.

‘A dynamic one-day player’

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.

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

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

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

At the 2019 World Cup against Afghanistan, he played an unbelievable innings and hit a record numbers of sixes. We should not just remember his form of the last few months, let’s remember his form for the bulk of his career. Forget the captaincy, he was a dynamic one-day player who was ahead of his time. You can only have huge respect for him.

I spoke to Rob Key at the beginning of the summer about Morgan. Key said that Morgan will always do what is best for the team. That is all he has ever been interested in and that is his mindset.

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If he feels that he is not contributing to the team or that the team is better without him in it then he will do the right thing. He has had a lack of runs recently, his fitness isn’t where he wants it to be and eventually it just strikes you – as it does with all of us – that you’ve got to move on.

Morgan was 'absolutely destructive' at his best with the bat

Morgan was ‘absolutely destructive’ at his best with the bat

He would have been thinking, not about the 10 players going out onto the field with him, but the lad he has got to leave out in white-ball cricket for him to play. At some stage he would think it’s not fair on that lad and the team is better without him. One thing is for certain, though: for the last however many years, the team has been much better with him in it.

‘Morgan provided calm among the chaos’

He gave us one of the most special moments in English cricket. That World Cup final win at Lord’s was one of the great days. A great occasion, great finish with the Super Over – an incredible, incredible win and, again, so much of that was down to Morgan.

After taking over a struggling team in 2015, Morgan led England to World Cup glory in 2019

After taking over a struggling team in 2015, Morgan led England to World Cup glory in 2019

You go back to 2015 and a few months earlier, Alastair Cook was still in charge. England had some players there that they didn’t select. They changed the captain but gave him the same players, I think Gary Ballance played at that World Cup and it was still a case of being rewarded for your Test match form with a place in the white-ball side. It was a little bit after the lord major’s show, white-ball cricket, so it was a bit of a hospital pass for Morgan.

Credit to Andrew Strauss for keeping him on board, he could easily have axed him after that World Cup but he spoke with him and saw that he could turn it around. It is not an easy thing to do but he did turn things around. He had the players to do it with Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow, Jason Roy and even Alex Hales back then – fabulous white-ball players but they were being held back a bit.

Morgan picked them but also gave them that care-free, 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, calm and calculated demeanour.

Nick Knight, Nasser Hussain and Michael Atherton discuss the candidates to replace Morgan as England white-ball captain

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Nick Knight, Nasser Hussain and Michael Atherton discuss the candidates to replace Morgan as England white-ball captain

Nick Knight, Nasser Hussain and Michael Atherton discuss the candidates to replace Morgan as England white-ball captain

His are huge shoes to fill. Whoever comes next is following England’s greatest ever white-ball captain. The man who revolutionised our white-ball cricket. I would go straight to Buttler, it’s a no-brainer, for me. In Buttler, they have someone who can fill those shoes perfectly. A similar cool, calm character.

The only issue would be that you don’t want it to affect his form because his form in the last year or more in white-ball cricket, the way he is batting is remarkable. I don’t think it will though.

Buttler is cut from the same cloth as Morgan. They’re very close and it’s a little bit like going from Joe Root to Ben Stokes in the Test side, it’s friend to friend. I don’t think Morgan could to hand it on to a better bloke than Buttler.



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