Saturday 16 December 2017

Eoin Morgan: It's a personal thing; I've never sung the English national anthem

England captain Eoin Morgan has defended his decision not to sing the national anthem before matches at the World Cup.
England captain Eoin Morgan has defended his decision not to sing the national anthem before matches at the World Cup.

Matt Somerford

England captain Eoin Morgan has defended his decision not to sing the national anthem before matches at the World Cup.

The 28-year-old left-hander was born and raised in Dublin but, after making his international debut for Ireland, has represented England since 2009.

"It's pretty simple. I've never sung the national anthem whether I've played for Ireland or England," he said.

"It doesn't make me any less proud to be an English cricketer. I'm extremely proud to be in the position I am in and privileged to be captain of a World Cup side."

When asked to expand on why he did not sing 'God Save the Queen', Morgan added: "It's a long story. It's a personal thing."

Outspoken broadcaster Piers Morgan suggested on Twitter this week that the one-day captain should sing the anthem.

Eoin Morgan has made 181 appearances for England in all formats - he played 23 times for Ireland - and was handed the captaincy for the World Cup after Alastair Cook was stood down following his lean tour of Sri Lanka before Christmas.

Morgan's first tour in full-time charge has not been smooth, however, after it began with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) revealing he was the victim of a £35,000 blackmail plot before the Tri-Series match in Hobart.

Morgan then suffered a horror run of outs - during which he made three successive ducks against Australia - and saw his team heavily beaten in their opening two World Cup matches. He was even incorrectly identified as 'Eoin Rogers' by the mayor of Wellington at a Maori welcoming ceremony.

A 119-run over Scotland in Christchurch on Monday got England's campaign off the mark although the criticism of his long-held decision not to sing the national anthem is another unwelcome distraction.

Morgan, who has been steadfast throughout, has also been the subject of some ridicule Down Under with former Australia captain Steve Waugh suggesting this week he might be having second thoughts about his move to England.

"A couple of their players might have regretted going to England, like Boyd Rankin and Eoin Morgan - they might be wishing they'd stayed with Ireland," Waugh said.

Ireland have won both of their games to start the World Cup.

The form of the Irish has pushed the International Cricket Council's decision to reduce the 2019 World Cup, to be held in England, down to 10 teams into the spotlight.

The consensus of opinion has been that scrapping for places, which would most likely prevent associate nations from reaching the World Cup, was not in the best interests of the game on a global level.

The fact the closest matches at this World Cup have so far involved the associate teams has also further strengthened the argument against the ICC's cull that Morgan agrees with.

"I think it would be a terrible shame," he said.

"Part of playing in a World Cup - the agenda of the ICC should be to spread the good word of the game we play.

"The more teams we can, within reason, have playing then the more exposure they get in their home nation and the more exposure they get against top sides."

Morgan also called for the ECB to consider organising a home Tri-Series including Ireland to help cure their chronic lack of matches between World Cups.

Ireland managed just nine completed ODIs against full-member nations in the four years since the last World Cup and at present have a deal to play England every two years.

"They want much more cricket and it wouldn't be a bad thing if we played a Tri-Series between whoever is touring (and Ireland)," Morgan said.

That would help Ireland's quest to play more games, and lift their ranking, after the ICC last month handed them a chance to directly qualify for the next World Cup should they rise into the top eight.

"If it's the Ashes then it'd be Australia and then Ireland in between," Morgan added.

"The Tri-Series we played recently, albeit against Australia and India, was brilliant. If there is a window for that absolutely."

Morgan also backed moves for an 'English Premier League' franchise-based Twenty20 tournament following revelations via a leaked document that the ECB were discussing the possibility, amongst a raft of potentially wide-reaching changes to the structure of the game.

"Striking a balance between having a similar international calendar as we have at the moment and three or four weeks of this EPL would be brilliant," he said.

"You look at templates like IPL - obviously they have their international players - but the Big Bash don't. They facilitate that with having two overseas players.

"If they're big enough names I think it can certainly work. It would obviously have to be less teams."

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