London: It is not just the Pakistan captain and coach who have a tough time whenever they lose a match. England skipper Eoin Morgan has also faced hard questions after his team’s third defeat in the World Cup — this time against arch-rivals Australia at Lord’s on Tuesday.
Morgan was reminded that, in 29 years, England have never beaten Australia in the World Cup.
A blunt question put to him was whether there was a sub-conscious fear of the Aussies in the England team? Putting on a brave face, Morgan said: “No.”
“Why?” was the next query.
“Because I’ve only played against them in two World Cups ... and I’m 32 years old.”
He was then told about a twitter message that said, “Morgan looked scared and was backing away from Mitchell Starc”.
Morgan sarcastically responded: “Really? Excellent.”
He was again asked whether he really felt that way.
Although visibly irritated, Morgan patiently said, “No. It didn’t feel that way at all.”
The England skipper tried his best to be positive and remarked that there was no need to panic when asked about his team’s chances of reaching the semi-finals.
“It is still strong,” he said. “The chances are in our hands. Everything is within our control. We just need to produce a performance worthy of winning either one or the next two games.”
So where does he think his team need to improve to make that happen?
“I think, both in this game and the last, we struggled with the basics of what we call our batting mantra. We need to show that strong intent, build partnerships, and do it in our own way. We haven’t done that for long enough periods of the game in order to either chase down 230 or 280, and that’s disappointing.”
Where have those basics gone?
Morgan admitted: “I think our basics get challenged a lot more when we don’t play on batter-friendly wickets — when you probably have to rotate the strike a lot more, as opposed to finding the boundary more often than not.”
Morgan was asked if the batting mantra changes or remains the same irrespective of circumstances?
“It is always evolving,” he said. “I don’t know if you’ve watched the last two years of the way that we’ve played, but it’s evolved quite a lot.”
However, Morgan candidly admitted that England’s confidence had taken a knock.
“I think it will take a little bit of a hit,” he admitted. “But I certainly don’t think it’s knocked anybody in the changing room. Normally, when we lose games of cricket like I mentioned yesterday, we go back to what we do well. We’ll still strive to do that for Sunday’s game [against India].”
Morgan noted that England did not collapse due to poor shots from his team’s batsmen.
“They bowled very well early on in the innings,” he said. “Being 20-3 obviously creates a bigger challenge, especially while chasing 280. So to make those inroads, I thought they bowled well.”
Ben Stokes hit a fighting 89 to try and haul England to their target, but unfortunately suffered from cramps.
When asked about Stokes, Morgan said: “He struggled with the cramp. It was a one-off day. Ben contributes in all three facets of our game plan, and today was quite a big day for him. He’s obviously in very good form, and it’s partly disappointing that an innings like that almost goes to one side because we lost the game.”