Morgan admits 2015 World Cup humbling by New Zealand left him at ‘rock bottom’
The defeat sparked an overhaul of England’s one-day side.
Eoin Morgan is eyeing one of the biggest wins of his England career against a New Zealand side who drove his captaincy to “rock bottom” at the last World Cup.
Victory over India at Edgbaston pulled England’s tournament back from the brink on Sunday, with another win over the Black Caps at Chester-le-Street enough to guarantee as semi-final place regardless of results elsewhere.
But to light a fuse under their current World Cup campaign, they must confront haunting memories of the previous edition four years ago.
Back then New Zealand mercilessly exposed the limitations of a side led by the recently-appointed Morgan, skittling them for 123 then reeling off the runs in just 12.2 overs of the scheduled 50.
Despite being a day/night match, the thrashing came so quickly that the floodlight were never even switched on, an experience that seared itself on Morgan’s mind.
It proved a watershed moment, with England tapping into the Kiwi blueprint and going on to establish
themselves as the new market-leaders in attacking one-day cricket.
Reflecting on that chastening moment in 2015, Morgan said: “It was as close to rock-bottom as I’ve been. Certainly as a captain and as a player.
“Being beaten off the park like that was humiliating. It was a one-horse race. The emotions were all over the place and I didn’t know what to feel because things were so bad but we still had games to play. It was weird.
“The way New Zealand did it their own way was important. It’s important for any team to get their own identity and stick with it.
“I thought that rubbed off on everybody in the World Cup.”
The message certainly got through to England, with Morgan overseeing a root-to-branch overhaul of the limited-overs ethos.
Since then they have beaten New Zealand home and away in bilateral series, 3-2 on each occasion, as well as in the 2017 Champions Trophy.
Asked if such a swing in fortunes had been foreseeable, he added: “No, I could never have imagined.”
Switching his attention to matters at hand, Morgan gave an honest account of his side’s current position. Heavy favourites heading into the event, they approach their ninth and final group game with nothing settled.
And while maintaining a level of competitive intensity may be no bad thing ahead of the knockout phase, Morgan admits poor cricket rather than good fortune is the explanation.
“The situation is that we need to win this game to confirm that we’ll be in the semis and we’re in this situation because we haven’t played consistently well enough.
The situation is that we need to win this game to confirm that we’ll be in the semis and we’re in this situation because we haven’t played consistently well enough Eoin Morgan
“If we were sitting here now having qualified already, we’d have been talking about ‘are we going to be complacent, are we going to rotate the squad?’
“It’s not the end of the tournament, it’s a huge opportunity for us to go on and play against a strong side. New Zealand have probably been the team of the tournament so far.”
Morgan said both Jason Roy and Jofra Archer were both looking fit, having previously admitted that playing them against India represented a gamble given their respective hamstring and side issues.
England are likely to go in unchanged after their return to form at Edgbaston, with Moeen Ali only in line for a recall if the pitch looks ready to turn sharply.
Even if the personnel remains the same, Morgan’s mentality may have already undergone a shift. Much of the side’s recent success has been built around batting second and chasing down any target.
With all three of their tournament defeats coming in pursuit, Morgan switched things up by posting a target in Birmingham and duly banked the points.
“I think accepting that the wickets haven’t been as good as they have been in the last four years has changed that,” he admitted.
“Every wicket that we’ve played on so far has been tougher to bat on in the second innings regardless of who has won or not.”