Sri Lanka tour of England 2021. Perhaps more than in any other format, the captain can significantly influence the outcome of a T20 match. Given the importance of each service, as well as games that are sometimes played with one or two balls, decisions made by captains in the middle of a match can have huge ramifications. Additionally, there are more composure, body language, and communication skills that can help players perform at their best under tremendous pressure. That's why, despite all the relative merits of bowling and English bowling before T20 WC, Eoin Morgan's influence cannot be underestimated.
Why Eoin Morgan's impact cannot be underestimated?
Morgan is perhaps the current best captain of the national team. He has a proven track record of tactics and is loved by many Knight Riders he has worked within England, Middlesex, and Calcutta. Much of Morgan's work is, of course, done off the pitch, as part of his extensive training, in the tactics he uses with Nathan Lemon, the English analyst, and in his daily interactions with his players. But Morgan's fieldwork is obviously crucial.
But how does Eoin Morgan lead England on the battlefield? Crictable watched him closely during the third T20I tournament against Sri Lanka at the Ageas Bowl to find out.
As soon as Morgan entered the field he spoke and did not stop talking until he came out at the end of the game. Before each of the six-over Powerplay, he stopped with the bowlers at the stumps and discussed the exit plan. During this time, he prefers to ask his bowlers questions, giving them options on where to put the bowl and which courts to set up. Much of that is decided before the game, of course, but the chat at the beginning of the end ensures that Morgan and the pitcher are lined up.
However, during those first six overs, he mostly left the pitchers alone, only checking when the left and right hitters switched their strokes. After Powerplay, however, Morgan talked a lot more with his bowlers at each break. We had to discuss the different drummers and multiple vaults in the post. For Sam Curran‘s first arrival, the seventh inning, Morgan spoke to him in each of the first four innings, checking the pitch and planning with his pitcher.
Most of the time, Morgan talked to Chris Jordan, the leader of the attack. During the innings, when Morgan was chatting with the bowler, Jordan was almost always in conversation, giving his opinion. In those moments when Jordan was not involved in the initial discussion, Morgan often sought him out to communicate the plan, perhaps confirming his approach with the more experienced bowler than him.
Just like Jordan, Morgan talked to all players about him at least once every 20 overs, both with Liam Livingston after taking a good hold, and with Johnny Burstow during the changeover. Morgan talks constantly.
A good man for a crisis
Comparing Morgan on the pitch with Virat Kohli, the hyperactive captain of India, you'd think the English captain has a heart of stone. Morgan is the most made up of captains and the players that he loves. His composure in the 2019 World Championship final at Lord's is legendary. This T20I was no exception, although England did not come under any pressure while bowling. Morgan could be the captain of the chair.
He looked very relaxed. He wandered between the shots, hiding behind his dark glasses, almost taking his time. This is a deliberate ploy to slow things down, a lesson he learned from the last T20 WC Finals of 2016 where he regretted not being distracted by Carlos Bratveit's attack.
Morgan may be a neutral face despite everything he gives. It is usually very difficult to tell what he is thinking when he is on the pitch. When David Willie and Jordan scored six times in a row, Morgan didn't face it and switched sides to keep an eye on the ball. He didn't even go to discuss it. He remained silent in the shelter, turning to look at the crowd after Willie was injured, and let it be the bowlers. Don't panic here, stick to the plan.
The only time he felt inspired was when they didn't take advantage of a few half-chances and he got his hands on his head. In fact, no one even noticed.
Make a plan, change it if necessary
It wasn't the most tactically difficult game Morgan would ever play. The Sri Lankan hitters hardly put any pressure on him. However, the captain modeled his tactics based on the situation, eliminating four of his bowlers.
During innings, he constantly adjusted the position of his outsiders to respond to the large size of the court relative to Cardiff, as well as the speed and bounce of the court. He often waved and yelled at the vaults to get their attention and move them in some way. In the circle, Morgan regularly nudged his men a little squarely or a little straighter with a slight wave of her hand.
He does not manage his team in a maniacal way, like the policeman who manages the traffic in Mumbai. His instructions are calm and clear, and the field players reacted immediately. They understand perfectly what he wants and when.
Aggressive terrain, aggressive play
Usually, Morgan plays the way he wants his team to act: aggressively and energetically. There was a prime example of this when the ball jumped over the penalty foot from the batter's bearings and Johnny Burstow followed behind the scenes. Morgan rushed to the midwicket stumps, recovered the pitch and smashed the handrails, then checked where the Sri Lankan batsman was. He was home, but Morgan would make sure that if there was a chance to go out, he would take advantage of it.
When he throws the ball off the court, which he never had to do today in the Sri Lankan innings, Morgan throws so hard all the time that it is never easier for a player to retire at the pitcher's end. … When he tries to save a single in the ring, as he did in the first six overs of this round, he almost skips time to close rounds. Sometimes on Saturday, he was only 20 meters from the bat when the ball came in trying to choke a Sri Lankan hitter.
Ruthless to the end
Despite England's strong position, Morgan did not hold back in this match. When he pulled Rashid out with only four overs to go and the game had already been won, Morgan spent a good minute talking to him across the pitch about Rashid to get him to finish. In that final, when Sri Lanka is 66 out of 8, Moin Ali slipped brilliantly and saved the border, and Morgan clapped loudly. Even then, every race was vital for the English captain.
Of course, it's a lot easier to be aggressive when you're at the top, as England is in this game. Even so, Morgan pushed the defensive players into a slide and brought them closer to the ring to stop the light singles in the middle overs, preventing the game from drifting. As soon as Wanindu Hasaranga got close to the crease, Morgan put in a miss, very tight cover and very tight figure, preventing the hitter from easily getting out of offside.
After Jordan threw the first ball on the 14th, Morgan made a mistake again. Three deliveries later, David Malan got involved, confirming his decision. Not content with that, Morgan added a second penalty to Jordan's last two goals. Morgan's cruelty didn't stop at the ground. In the post-match press conference, he made sure his team didn't rest on their laurels after a clear victory over the Sri Lankans. When asked how many places in the England squad were chosen for the World Cup, Morgan replied that only six. The message was clear.
At the end of another series win, Morgan hugged each team as they await the LBW's final decision on the field. Back in the locker room, he shook hands with each of the attendants, including the masseuse and the security guard. It has been a job for England and their captain, even though they know that they will face much more difficult challenges in the future, especially when they reach the stage of the T20 World Cup. At least at Morgan, England has the best captain in the world to help them with future challenges. Can you give him an advantage on the pitch? Time will tell.