England v West Indies, World T20 2016 final, Kolkata April 2, 2016

Morgan tells England: 'Embrace the hype'

Eoin Morgan has challenged his England team to finish the journey that they embarked on this time last year, and insists they will go into Sunday's World T20 final against West Indies in Kolkata with their eyes wide open and their mindsets as clear as they have been throughout a revelatory campaign.

The madness of the media scrum that Morgan faced at Eden Gardens was ample evidence that tomorrow is no ordinary game. However, England's captain was adamant that the same grounded attitude that has carried the team to within a single victory of their second World T20 crown would prevent them from being overawed by the occasion.

"We're quite real about things," said Morgan. "We know it's not going to be a normal game. Even the semi-final we played [against New Zealand at Delhi], there was quite a lot of hype around the expectation of playing in a final, and I want all of our players to embrace it.

"Tomorrow everything will feel a little bit rushed to start with, but it is important we are in the right frame of mind to slow it down when needed and more importantly execute our skills."

The expectation going into the final was that England and West Indies would be faced with a slow, low turner, similar to the Kolkata pitch on which India and Pakistan battled out a low-scoring thriller in the group stages of the competition. However, Morgan said he had been encouraged by his initial viewing of the surface, which appears to have the sort of grass covering that might not have been anticipated.

That prospect will doubtless suit West Indies' stroke-makers as much as England's - with 146 runs in boundaries in their semi-final win over India at the Wankhede, the prospect of the ball once again coming onto the bat will do them no harm at all.

Nevertheless, for England - whose five matches to date have all come on the relatively pacy wickets of Mumbai and Delhi, which have allowed their four-prong seam attack to grow in confidence as each round has progressed - the less adaptation required, the better.

"I have had a look at the wicket, yesterday not today," said Morgan. "There is a nice covering of grass and it looks a really good cricket wicket, which is really good news. I suppose coming to Kolkata you'd expect it to have no grass, but it's nice to see a covering of grass holding it together.

"The wickets we've played on in our group weren't typical Indian wickets," he added. "I suppose it has surprised me a little. I'm thankful I have reacted to what's been in front of me and used what's been effective in games, rather than just sticking with spin the whole time."

That said, there is still plenty of time for the groundstaff to have their say, and should he wake up tomorrow and discover that the surface has been scalped, then Morgan was adamant he would have no compunction about putting Liam Dawson, England's third spinner, forward for selection, even though he has yet to play a single international match.

"Absolutely," Morgan said. "He's bowled brilliantly. He wasn't in the squad in South Africa but he travelled with the side and since he's been out here he's come on a hell of a lot. We'd have no issue giving him his debut if that was the right way to go about it.

Jason Roy's nerveless assault carried England into the final © AFP

"If the grass isn't there tomorrow, I'd back the ability of my players to adapt to any conditions and put in a match-winning performance."

That attitude chimes with England's overall outlook in this tournament. And, though the contrast has been done to death in the past three weeks, that willingness to have a go and to remain buoyant even in times of adversity, is so far removed from the dour approach to the 2015 World Cup that it still boggles the mind that England could reform their attitude so swiftly.

"It's quite a stark difference from 12 months ago," said Morgan. "It's hard to believe in some ways. I would never have imagined the turnaround being so immediate or having such an immediate impact. But I've always stressed the talent we have in the changing-room and the hard work we put in.

"The key component in that has been the mindset of the players and back-room staff, and it's rubbed off on everyone. Tomorrow, the opportunity that we do have is a product of that. It's very exciting. I'm just very proud. Very, very proud."

On a personal note, Morgan admitted that his own form has been a concern, much as it was in Australia and New Zealand last year when he mustered 90 runs in five innings. However, having been thrown the captaincy at the last minute on that occasion, this time around he has had a full year in which to cement his authority on the team. Even in the absence of a major contribution from his own bat, Morgan is confident of the value he has brought to the role in this campaign.

"I think I've drawn on a lot of experience," he said. "One thing I like to think I do is deal on an individual basis pretty well and keep an eye on the guys, how they're travelling, and the guys who aren't playing.

"It's very important that their contributions and morale around the group is high, given that we're touring India and a lot of the guys haven't been here before, it's important to keep talking about conditions, make sure there's no novelty and no pre-conceived ideas."

There will be plenty of novelty on parade on Sunday evening, as England take to the field at the most storied venue in Asia to contest a world final that no-one could have predicted they were ready to tackle.

"It would mean a huge amount [to win it]," Morgan said. "The strides that we've made in the last 12 months in white-ball cricket, this would be a great reward for the mindset we've shown, the dedication and the hard work."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. He tweets @miller_cricket

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • leftyb7421825 on April 4, 2016, 9:51 GMT

    England could as well pat themselves on their backs for the jolly good show they put up through out the tournament.The way they chased 230 plus against the Proteas was a stark reminder of things to come.In fact England soldiered on silently because of the hype was around India, their victories went unnoticed till they took on the Kiwis in the semis. Morgan has marched his troops admirably until they ran into the Calypso kings..!!

  • Danish on April 2, 2016, 17:13 GMT

    They should treat it like any other game. They should play like underdogs which will bring about the best of them.

    Although Morgan says he will bring Dawson if needed, I don't think they will. I've been following how England are going about things, and they seem to just be ok with a particular lineup no matter what the conditions.

  • Tahir on April 2, 2016, 17:12 GMT

    First of all thanks to west indies for saving us: the fans from one man show type of stuff and also ensuring they ditch the one man show tag themselves as well before ramping into the final. West indies batting lineup has to repeat their performance in the semis and they will be certainly under pressure to do that against english bowling lineup that has some pure fast bowlers as well along with an array of all rounders. Keeping in view the semi final wins for both the teams, england have beaten the unbeaten team of the tournament whose spin attack had created the impression of being the best. England have spent a lot of effort to come this far with calculated experimentation and were already the favorites to start the tournament but media ignored that fact. They dont play IPL but still their faces are well known to cricket fans while many of IPL faces have come and gone. WI won against england at group due to a one man show while england had team contribution alongside root when they.

  • Tahir on April 2, 2016, 17:11 GMT

    continued.....beat SA in just the next game after losing to WI. First NZ were given a lot of hype as they beat the hosts and now the west indies but England will prove tomorrow that they need no hype.

  • John on April 2, 2016, 15:22 GMT

    morgan should take a rest

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