HAMILTON, NEW ZEALAND - FEBRUARY 25: Eoin Morgan of England looks on during game one in the One Day International series between New Zealand and England at Seddon Park on February 25, 2018 in Hamilton, New Zealand. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

Eoin Morgan: Under-appreciated and Undervalued

March 9th 2015 is the darkest day in England’s white ball history.

Humbled by Bangladesh, they were sent packing from the iCC World Cup with a game to spare. A result that was just the tip of the iceberg following being dismantled at the hands of Sri Lanka, New Zealand and eventual winners Australia.

Fast forward three years and the turnaround with their 50 over game could not be more emphatic.

A data driven approach has often been seen as the downfall in England’s game. An inability to adapt and react to the match situation, a robotic paint by numbers game plan. But if you do indeed look at the numbers they show just how far this side has come.

Since that 15 run defeat in Adelaide, England have played 62 One Day International matches, winning 40 and losing just 18. That’s a win rate of 2.22, meaning that England are wining more than twice the number of games than they are losing.

For their entire history, including the previous three year period, their win rate was just 1.07.

The man at the forefront of this turnaround is Eoin Morgan. A man who was thrust into the captaincy just two months before the start of that ill-fated World Cup campaign.
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Under his leadership the batting unit has blazed a trail that no other side in the world is able to compete with. Since 2015 they have scored at 6.20 runs per over, a rate of 0.39 runs more than any other side. Their 41.14 average runs per wicket is second only to India and their total of 444 made against Pakistan in 2016 is a world record score that does not look like being beaten any time soon.

Yet despite being the leader of the side and championing his players to ditch their batting inhibitions, the 31 year-old has come under scrutiny and his place in the side, his side, has been questioned.

Obviously the biggest reason why people are calling to move on from Morgan is that his recent form has been anything less than stellar. Prior to his 62 in the second ODI against New Zealand, it had been 13 innings since he scored a fifty and a further five since he scored his last century.

However, if you delve deeper you see that before this recent lean spell you have to go back to June 2016 and eight series ago for the last time he averaged less than 40 in an ODI series. This is remarkable consistency, especially for a player with a strike rate of 91.23 per 100 balls across his 174 matches for England.

Morgan’s near run a ball strike rate is only bettered by Jos Buttler for players with more than 2000 runs for England. Moreover, since 2015, the former Ireland batsman is the 12th highest run scorer in ODI’s accumulating 2032 runs from 54 matches.

It is a level of run scoring that has gone under the radar with the cricket watching public. Morgan’s average of 37.86 is greater than the rest of the England batting line up other than Joe Root (50.65) and Jonny Bairstow (44.07), it’s propelled the Middlesex batsman up to number two on England’s all-time ODI run scoring list, whilst notching 10 centuries along that way.
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What doesn’t get missed is his ability as a captain. His fearless batting translates into bold and aggressive captaincy. He’s willing to take risks in an attempt to win the game and the first ODI in the series with New Zealand demonstrated this perfectly. With Ross Taylor guiding the Black Caps to victory, Morgan turned to Rashid within the final overs and the legspinner rewarded him by picking up the wicket.

However, Morgan gambled and bowled Rashid another over that Mitchell Santner hit to all parts of the ground, swinging the contest in the host’s favour. While this was not the positive outcome that he hoped for, the initial reward turned the game in his side’s favour.

So with Morgan’s captaincy applauded and his apparent lack of runs being no more than a simple dip in form, why does Captain Morgan face mutiny from some?

Maybe it is because he’s Irish. Maybe it is because he didn’t sing the national anthem. Maybe there’s something less tangible that has stopped the public warming to him, it is something that Kevin Pietersen suffered with similarly.

What is apparent though is that his value to the side is one that cannot be easily replaced. He laid the foundations and changed the culture of a side that were essentially a laughing stock when it came to the one day game and turned them to early favourites to claim the 2019 World Cup.

Perhaps you do only realise what you had when it’s gone but luckily for England, Morgan should have plenty more years leading the team yet.

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