Sunday 18 February 2018

Morgan can be up there with best if he gets mojo back

Australia's Mitchell Marsh celebrates dismissing England's captain Eoin Morgan
Australia's Mitchell Marsh celebrates dismissing England's captain Eoin Morgan

Michael Vaughan

Did I expect England to beat Australia? Absolutely not. Did I expect the Australians to come out and play the brand of cricket that they did? Yes.

But did I expect England to compete? Absolutely. They did not, and that is a real concern. I thought they would lose, but I did not expect them to lose in this fashion.

They are going to get criticised and rightly so, because they built themselves up, they let us all believe that this was going to be a big performance and that they were going to shock Australia.

I do not think we saw that. And the problem with losing in this fashion is that there are so many players who are now out of form. They play New Zealand in Wellington on Friday, and somehow they have to produce.

England are nowhere near the best teams in the tournament. They will need everything going for them to cause a shock in the knockout stages - if they get that far.

Facing a quality team in New Zealand, England will need things to go in their favour. I see nothing negative in them being honest about that.

The worrying sign is that England look like startled rabbits. Those dropped catches and fumbles early in the game sent a message to everyone.

England are really fretting here. Drubbings like the 111-run defeat on Saturday hurt a team big time.


As much as they talk about dusting themselves down for Friday, there are four or five players who, inwardly, will have doubts. Moeen Ali is not in great form; Jos Buttler has not made a huge amount of runs; Chris Woakes has been hit for a few. And then there is the skipper.

Generally, a side reflects its captain's mindset. And, as much as I rate Eoin Morgan as a cricketer, I worry about his mindset at present. When you have had four ducks in five innings, you panic. You walk to the middle, and all of a sudden those memories come back. It is impossible to block them out.

People say experience is a good thing, but it's not always the case.

Sometimes you think too much. When Morgan first came into the England side, he did not think. He just watched the ball and tried to hit it.

At the moment, the Dubliner looks like he is trying to play a technical game. He is almost trying to get himself in too much.

The last thing he needs is to go into his shell and think that he has to play a captain's innings. I did that on a few occasions, both in Test cricket and one-day cricket, and you end up getting completely mixed up.

When you take the captaincy on a temporary basis, you are not really doing the job. You talk to the coach a bit, you talk to the odd player, and then you just go out there and enjoy it.

When you are the full-time captain, you are involved in every meeting, every discussion. You have many more hours with the coach, and sometimes you can over-analyse.

Morgan looks like the kind of cricketer who can work things out for himself. He has a basic plan, and now he just needs to get on with it.

I want to see the old Eoin Morgan back. He was the X-factor player.

I would tell him to go away over the next few days, hit some balls and rediscover that free spirit we have all enjoyed watching in one-day cricket.

Easier said than done, but he has seven one-day international hundreds. His strike rate is 85. He has three hundreds against Australia. So we know he can do it against the best.

England's bowlers have to do better under pressure. They are what I call a '50 per cent attack'. Fifty per cent of the time, they are very good. The rest of the time - the hard times, when the pitch is flat and the ball is not swinging - England are pathetic.

They are still rubbish at bowling under pressure against striking cricketers. This has been going on for a long time - all last winter, most of 2014, and in the tri-series. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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