Eoin Morgan hoping for a transformational World Cup summer
England go into the tournament as favourites on home soil.
Eoin Morgan is hoping English cricket enjoys a transformational World Cup summer and is already feeling the shift, from Buckingham Palace to the London Underground.
The hosts will get the tournament off and running at the Oval against South Africa on Thursday, the first step on a six-week journey that culminates across the capital at Lord’s on July 14.
Captain Morgan knows the impact it would have on the next generation, and cricket’s wider role in the national conversation, if he was the man to hold the trophy aloft.
The interest levels are already spiking, with Dublin-born Morgan representing England at Wednesday’s captains’ trip to meet the Queen and the Duke of Sussex.
“It is extremely cool and with the World Cup it is a great thing to do. The Sunday best will be on,” said Morgan ahead of his royal appointment.
He was later pictured alongside India star Virat Kohli chatting to Prince Harry and took pride of place next to Queen Elizabeth II in the official group shot.
Morgan has noticed a change in less formal situations too, with his usually quiet trips on public transport taking on a new tone.
“Certainly on the tube I’ve been getting attention, which is rare,” he revealed.
“It’s been happening the last couple of weeks. Normally I get left alone on the tube, but people are just so excited and want to talk.
“There is a lot of good faith going around from the public with people just looking forward to the tournament and being excited about the whole summer ahead. As a team we’re just as excited and we’re ready to give it a good crack.”
Morgan’s team enter the tournament on top of the global rankings, with four years of solid upward trajectory under their belts and home advantage to fall back on.
With the Ashes series following hot on the heels of the World Cup the stage is perfectly set to for England to deliver on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to give their sport a lift.
It is a responsibility Morgan does not shy away from.
“It would mean a huge amount, the World Cup alone raises the profile of the game and is a platform for every young kid in this country to have a hero or have the inspiration to pick up a ball or a bat,” he said.
“To go on and win it, I couldn’t imagine what that would do.”
Last summer it was football that had the country’s rapt attention as the Three Lions reached the final four in Russia, regaining some lost love for the national side in the process.
The architect of that campaign, Gareth Southgate, visited England’s training camp in Cardiff last month and made a big impression on those present.
“We did the session with Gareth, who was brilliant, every one of our players enjoyed it,” said Morgan.
“He got up and talked about his journey with the team in and around the World Cup, but in the build-up as well – how they built bigger expectations and became more together as a group.
“Everyone in the room recognised they are where we were two years ago. We started where they did: recognise what happened in the past, drawn a line under it.”
Morgan could not resist one waspish observation, though, nodding to his team’s failure to land a trophy two years ago compared to the footballers’ efforts.
“It’s amazing, they got to the semi-finals and everyone said it was great. We got to the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy and we were crap.”
The Middlesex batsman is known as an ice-cool leader, not prone to displays of naked emotion, but even he acknowledged the honour of leading out the host nation was a seismic one.
“I dreamed about scoring a Test match hundred, and hitting the winning runs in a World Cup final, potentially,” he said. “But I never dreamt, even in my wildest dreams, that I would captain a home World Cup.”