ODI cricket has experienced significant changes since the last tournament 4 years ago in England and Wales. Eoin Morgan, one of the main architects of that change in mindset and captain of last edition’s champions, England, is set to watch the 2023 tournament from the stands after having retired from international cricket in 2022. Morgan was at the forefront of an England team that restructured itself to become a white-ball juggernaut, and their thrilling victory over New Zealand in the 2019 final is the standard for every team to live up to in India this year.
“Dhoni finishes it off in style!”
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Morgan is considered one of the finest white-ball captains of all time for the manner in which he pioneered England’s revival in the format, playing an ultra-attacking brand of cricket that made the most of their batting depth and power-hitting to go from the disappointments of the 2015 World Cup to world champions and perhaps the best limited-overs team of modern-day cricket in just four years under his guidance. To add to that, England is now the defending T20 World Cup champions as well.
Ahead of the ICC 2023 World Cup, Morgan reflected on how ODIs are becoming less of a fixture but the World Cup remains the pinnacle of the sport. In an interview with WION, Morgan pointed out the four teams he saw as favourites. “When it comes to the business end of the tournament, I have no doubt England will be there, I have no doubt India will be there. And the other teams I would probably see potentially lifting the trophy are Australia and Pakistan, two very very strong teams, and two contenders when it comes to big competitions.”
“They have a lot of talent to work with. Playing cricket in India, particularly the 50-over format, you need to have all bases covered, and I would say those teams do,” continued Morgan.
These four teams are amongst the strongest outfits with Pakistan and India naturally having the advantage of the conditions while Australia and England have the kind of talent in every position that can push them just above the chasing pack of New Zealand and South Africa. When asked about his predictions for India’s World Cup run, and his advice to a team that has faltered in ICC tournaments since their 2013 Champions Trophy triumph, Morgan was full of praise for the hosts.
“They’re an excellent cricket team that I believe will be favourites going into the World Cup. You don’t have to rewind the clock back that far when MS Dhoni was captain back in 2011, and that magical moment for all Indian fans when he hit that ball over long-on for six, and India lifted the trophy.”
The former skipper also spoke about how familiarity was key at this kind of tournament — each of the last three World Cups has been lifted by the hosts. “Home advantage is quite a key thing, but if you were to advise anything you would say engage with the people who were there, and were leaders throughout that journey, and pick their brain. The likes of Virat Kohli played in that team and has first-hand experience of what it is like. It is going to be a hell of a tournament that I am looking forward to,” said Morgan.
The Englishman, who is currently in Zimbabwe participating in the ZimAfro T10 league, also spoke about New Zealand, and how his England team had aspired to take their lead when it came to their mental approach to the tournament. “The team I led is actually very similar to Kane and his team, and they were finalists back in 2015 beaten by Australia, and finalists at Lord’s.”
“The level of consistency they showed in performance, but also the level of humility and respect they play the game with is something we admired as a team and strived to achieve,” said Morgan of a Kiwi outfit which reached the finals in 2015 and 2019, and the semifinals in 2011, also enjoying success in other ICC events such as the inaugural WTC.
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