England v Australia, 1st ODI, Rose Bowl June 22, 2010

'I played my percentages and took it on' - Morgan


After the innings of his life to date, Eoin Morgan faced the press with the same thousand-yard stare and monotone voice that Bob Willis produced at Headingley after his own demolition of the Aussies back in 1981. It was hardly surprising, to be fair. After gracing the Rose Bowl with a performance of Technicolor rarely witnessed in England's one-day history, he wasn't interested in furnishing his effort with any more superlatives than he'd already produced.

"I'm just doing what I practise really," he deadpanned. "It was a belting wicket. I played my percentages and took it on. It's tough playing against Australia, especially with the attack they have. They've got some good bowlers, so it was nice. I've got no trick shots on the snooker table. And I'm rubbish at golf." At 10.30pm after a sapping evening's work, that was pretty much that.

Morgan will know, however, that in a year that culminates in both an Ashes and a World Cup campaign, that was quite some manifesto to slap on the table. When he last took part in a home one-day series, in the autumnal mists last September, he was a rookie finding his feet against a vengeful Aussie outfit, who were on their way to a 6-1 thumping.

Now, nine months down the line, he's cemented a role as England's finest finisher for a generation, having played an integral role in a one-day series win in South Africa, and a maiden ICC global triumph in the Caribbean. And, as a packed and jubilant Rose Bowl crowd rose to acclaim his first hundred on home soil, it really was a case of seeing is believing for the English cricket's fanbase.

"The great thing about Morgy is he is a finisher, but he does it in an aggressive manner as well, and that puts opposition captains under pressure," said Andrew Strauss. "He's doing it consistently as well, and it was an outstanding innings today - one of the very best I've seen in an England shirt."

Coming from a man who's seen Kevin Pietersen in full flow on numerous occasions in the past five years, that was quite some statement, but Strauss was loathe to suggest that a new sheriff had ridden into KP's town. "I don't think we need to compare the two," he said. "It's not like a 'wow!' competition. He plays some outrageous shots but the great thing is he can score around the wicket against all sorts of bowling, so as an opposition captain, you scratch your head and think how can we tie him down. It's proving difficult at the moment."

Morgan's intervention was audacious and emphatic. At the nadir of England's innings, they had slumped to 97 for 4 after 20 overs, a scenario almost identical to Australia's early wobble at 98 for 4 after 21.2. But, on his watch, England somehow rushed to victory with an impertinent four overs to spare. The actual margin of victory - four wickets - was more realistic as to the tussle that had taken place. But Morgan's magic ensured the final stages were a rout.

"I thought tonight was a pretty even contest, for the majority of the game it was right in the balance," said Ricky Ponting. "It was a decent game of cricket and we've got some work to do to make sure we are a bit better prepared next game. We were a long way below our best tonight and we still remained pretty competitive. If there are any positives for us at all, that's probably it out of the game."

Inevitably, Ponting played down any suggestion that England have raised their one-day game to levels never before seen in his career - ("Maybe they are getting a few more results now, but that doesn't necessarily mean there's been a change in attitude ..."), while Strauss maintained the admirable calm that has been England's stock reaction to their recent efforts by pointing out that this was just one match out of five. But in the same week that Sachin Tendulkar suggested that Australia are as vulnerable as they've been for 20 years, the collective confidence of England's cricket was almost as striking as Morgan's individual effort.

"It's the first game, but we've done a lot of things right," said Strauss. "The bowlers did a good job to restrict Australia to 267 and at the halfway mark I think we felt we were in front. But Australia being Australia they'll come back at us hard in the next game, so let's not pat ourselves on the back too much in this game. Ultimately it's a very satisfying victory."

The more Morgan's game develops, the more the comparisons with a certain MG Bevan will start to flood in, and Strauss didn't pretend he hadn't noticed the similarities between two left-handed icemen with an uncanny knack for producing a crucial boundary in some undefendable corner of the field.

"We've been looking for a Michael Bevan-type character for quite a long time, and Morgs has shown a few times in both 50-over and 20-over cricket that he can play in a similar fashion, and perhaps a bit more aggressively than Bevan. We can't rely on one person, we need to get contributions from 1 to 9 in the batting order, which is why it was good that Luke Wright came in and did a good job at No. 6 and Tim Bresnan at No. 7."

But ultimately, the first ODI was all about one man, and Ponting is already plotting to stop him. "He did everything right tonight, there's no doubt about that. He didn't offer us a chance, did he? He hit the ball very, very well.

"The difference in those situations is how much pressure you can build up and how much you can put on them to hit a boundary. We didn't do that tonight. He got his boundaries too easily, which allowed them to stay in front in the game. We have to make it harder for good players like him to find the boundary in those middle overs.

"Against the slower guys he is unorthodox. You saw that tonight when [Nathan] Hauritz first came on. The way he reverse-sweeps makes it difficult to set fields for. But the way our quicks and our medium-pacers bowled to him tonight, we just gave him too many easy boundary options. There's not too many guys in international cricket if you bowl them a half-volley they won't put it away.

"He hit a lot of cover-drives for four. We have to address that, and address it pretty quickly for the next game."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • P on June 24, 2010, 17:05 GMT

    To all those bragging about Hussey's average. In limited overs, averages do not provide a lot of meaning. You can boost your average by staying not out in ODI or playing fewer ODIs (Yuvi has played over 100 more ODIs than Hussey). The probability of remaining not out for non-opening batsman is higher due to 50 over limit. Hussey has only 2 ODI centuries (Yuvi has 12) and has about an average strike rate for someone who would usually bat in second half. The strike rates of two are comparable with Yuvi keeping this strike rate by playing over 100 more ODIs than Hussey. Powerplays etc. also make comparing averages irrelevant. Hussey is definately a good player, but he is not nearly as dangerous as Yuvi. Yuvi is may be immature due to the fact that he started playing ODIs in his early twenties, compared to Hussey who started playing in ODIs in late twenties. In fact, the current age of Yuvi is close to the time when Hussey started playing ODIs. I just don't see your point.

  • Steve on June 24, 2010, 8:49 GMT

    @SnowSnake - Yuvraj averages 37 in ODIs, Hussey averages 52. Therefore you are wrong. VERY wrong. You Yuvraj fanboys really do look ridiculous sometimes.

  • ashok on June 24, 2010, 2:40 GMT

    I do not think it is right to compare Morgan with Bevan. I was never a big fan of Bevan. He used to up the ante too late in the innings due to which Australia were always 10-20 runs short but they made up with their world class bowling attack. Morgan is more talented and aggressive and would make a great finisher irrespective of whether England bats or bowls first.

  • P on June 23, 2010, 21:35 GMT

    @Paul Rone-Clarke. I thought I was agreeing with you that Yuvraj is a better quality ODI player than Hussey. Hussey is a wonderful test cricket player. Hussey is not a great ODI player. Even Australia did not consider Hussey for ODI games until he was in his late twenties. Yuvraj is a very dangerous player. If Yuvraj is in an ODI team then the opposition must get him out to increase their winning chances. Hussey is no where as dangerous. He is a good player, no doubt. However, he is not in the same league as Yuvraj. In test cricket, I would put Hussey at a higher level than Yuvraj.

  • Upender on June 23, 2010, 19:32 GMT

    congrats to england,they played superb cricket right throught the match.I would definitely pray they give the aussies the same drubbing as they received last year.Eoin Morgan was terrific.England have unearthed another hero in him.It would be pretty early to compare him with the likes of Bevan & Hussey but yes he is an exciting prospect.For Australia Clarke played well but the rest failed,Ponting looks a pale shadow of himself.The quality of cricket played in the overall match was excellent & it will definitely help in the revival of ODI cricket.

  • Dummy4 on June 23, 2010, 16:09 GMT

    @ SnowSnake:i too agree it is horrible to compare yuvraj with bevan and hussey whose average's were well above 50 and won so many matches single handly for aus .i think you don't know much about cricket.

  • Michael on June 23, 2010, 15:43 GMT

    Wonder why anyone is questioning ODI's after that. it was a proper game with ebbs and flows. If you just want sixes go and watch a net practice. Cricket is not just about thrills;it has to have a plot/drama as well. Morgan is the x factor player England have needed for years. Add in a good legspinner and a genuine quick(92+ mph) and england would would be hot.

  • Dummy4 on June 23, 2010, 15:15 GMT

    @ Snowsnake your comment ref Yuvraj (a player I repect a lot BTW) "His accomplishments six-sixes in an over and 2001 Nat West etc. are much more significant. " Why? Don't want to sound facile - but why? It's certainly not obvious to me.

  • P on June 23, 2010, 14:27 GMT

    I have to agree, Yuvraj should not be put along side Bevan & Hussey. Yuvraj is much more talented that both of these two. He single can win a match single handedly. His accomplishments six-sixes in an over and 2001 Nat West etc. are much more significant.

  • Vivek on June 23, 2010, 13:16 GMT

    think England has got Bevan-like player in Fairbrother long back...but like Bevan, he was sorted out in the Test matches, bouncers and all...i believe playing him in Test matches was a mistake

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