England were crowned champions of the world on July 14, 2019, as they beat New Zealand in what was undoubtedly the best final to be ever witnessed.
Eoin Morgan and the rest of his troops were relieved and filled with euphoria when they lifted the iconic World Cup at the Lords Cricket Ground while justifying their tags of being “favourites“.
But it was the same Eoin Morgann who was put under the pump by the media and the general public in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 in Australia when his side was outclassed by an inexperienced Bangladesh team.
Their humiliating defeat to the Bangla tigers crashed them out of the tournament before they could even make it to the quarter-finals.
Having lost four games of six in the 2015 edition of the World Cup made quite a few cricket fans and experts question Eoin Morgan’s leadership skills and as to whether he’s preparing for the next World Cup which takes place in the United Kingdom.
The Dublin born batsman was adamant at those moments when he stated that he wasn’t thinking too far ahead and was just focusing at the series’ to follow after an early exit from the mega event.
But the intention was clear and the vision was to build a team of match winners. Eoin Morgan deep down was giving a thought to the World Cup that was going to be hosted in England and Wales in 2019.
The England Cricket Board (ECB) seemed to prioritise ODI cricket for the time to come as their reputation was in danger.
Gutsy decisions were made by the governing body and were backed by Morgan as star players such as James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Ravi Bopara, Ian Bell, Steve Finn, and Chris Jordan were simultaneously being sidelined series after series.
England now wanted a whole new outlook for limited-overs cricket. Joe Root was termed as captain for Tests after Alastair Cook decided to call it quits from the given role.
Meanwhile, Eoin Morgan was assigned a task of focusing solely on recruiting a formidable fifty over unit. The bold move of leaving out James Anderson and Stuart Broad from the ODI circuit did create quite a stir.
But Morgan’s vision was to have a fresh and new squad of fifteen who were the students of attacking cricket and believed in saving runs in the inner as well as the outer circle through unmatchable quickness and agility in the field.
Ever since their shortcomings in 2015, Eoin Morgan’s revamp was substantial as England won 69% of their games after the World Cup in Australia and dethroned India for the number one spot in the ICC rankings.
Inclusion of players such as Jonny Bairstow, Jason Roy gave England one of the most solid opening pairs in world cricket who had secured 17 fifty-plus partnerships up until the final of the World Cup in just 32 games played together.
Not only did they score with an average of 70, but their strike rate was the quickest amongst any other pair in world cricket.
Promoting Joe Root at number three and pointing him out as the best batsmen of the England team was a must for Morgan.
Though Joe Root isn’t one of the most attacking players in the modern game, his textbook approach and calmness on the wicket ensured solidarity to the rest of the line-up.
His presence was of massive help as he scored 556 runs in the campaign. Then came in the finishers which included Jos Butler, Ben Stokes, and Eoin Morgan himself.
Eoin Morgan’s ability to purely counter-attack, while Jos Butler and Ben Stokes’ intention of milking runs while executing innovative shots time and time again to unsettle bowlers always kept the opponents on their toes.
To add further detail England had struck 76 sixes which are the most number of sixes hit by a team in any edition of the World Cup.
To accompany that, the English side had 11 hundred run stands which are also the most by a nation in any previous edition of the World Cup.
Moeen Ali was another all-around option who had impressed the selectors through his big-hitting and knack of taking wickets at crucial intervals.
Ali was accompanied by the wrist-spinner Adil Rashid who under the mentorship of Saqlain Mushtaq brought in the variety which Eoin Morgan was looking for.
The team that England had assembled was filled with options who could chip in with both bat and ball.
Players such as Chris Woakes and Liam Plunkett were not only genuine wicket-takers but also shared a common quality of tonking the ball for quickfire runs in the final overs if the situation arose.
To top it all off the masterstroke of including Jofra Archer in the World Cup squad in spite of him playing just the one series versus Pakistan which was a few days prior to the World Cup led to a massive impact on the hosts’ success in the mega event.
The 24-year-old ended up scalping 20 wickets and bowled a crucial super over in the finals as he topped the charts for England in the wicket-takers list.
Not to forget Mark Wood’s express pace, coming in as a first change bowler often bamboozled the batsmen, as he came second to the list while having 18 wickets to his name.
Meanwhile, it was Chris Woakes who led the pace attack with his perfect swing, movement and bounce with the new ball as he had 16 victims to his tally.
Though the squad seemed pretty much sorted for England, Eoin Morgan’s decision of playing Liam Plunkett, a fast bowler who relies on variations over Moeen Ali turned out to be unconventionally positive for the hosts.
Liam Plunkett’s inclusion in the England playing XI had led his side to have a 100% win record in the World Cup.
The towering pacers ability to slow down the pace with variations of his choice helped England in breaking pivotal partnerships at crucial intervals as he proved to be a witty customer with the ball.
His spell of three for 42 versus New Zealand in the finals and 11 wickets of 7 games just solidified Eoin Morgan and the management’s claim of him being a vital member of the team.
Having Plunkett in the playing XI who might have been considered as “weak link” by many signified that Eoin Morgan was in need of players who knew what they had to do when put under pressure.
England had all the ingredients of a champion team. From trailblazing openers, to a match-winning middle order. From genuine all-rounders to clever quick bowlers and spinners.
But more than a group of individuals with impeccable skill in the field of cricket, it was the self-belief that these players had which made the difference.
On a number of occasions in the World Cup, England found themselves on the ropes especially after consecutive defeats to Sri Lanka and Australia in the group stages, but time after time they managed their way out of that muddy hole with conviction.
To say that this is the best ever England team to surface the field before the tournament had begun was one thing, but to perform in the ground and to make those statements look true required unparalleled character.
With England overcoming their demons as Jos Butler threw himself to the wickets to run Martin Guptill out, Eoin Morgan and the rest might have just opened the floodgates and found the formula of more memorable triumphs that are to follow.