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Morgan urges England to seize opportunity to become heroes

The England captain recognises the importance of this summer for the game as a whole.

Morgan (bottom, second right) was pride of place at Buckingham Palace (Yui Mok/PA)
Morgan (bottom, second right) was pride of place at Buckingham Palace (Yui Mok/PA)

England captain Eoin Morgan has called on his side to become national heroes ahead of their World Cup curtain-raiser against South Africa, fresh from receiving a royal seal of approval.

Morgan represented the hosts as all 10 skippers visited Buckingham Palace on the eve of the tournament, pictured in conversation with the Duke of Sussex and seated in pride of place next to the Queen in the official group shot.

The next engagement in his diary is a more familiar one, a coin toss with opposite number Faf du Plessis at 10am, after which English cricket’s once-in-a-generation summer will begin in earnest.

With an Ashes series following hot on the heels of the competition, there is an opportunity to capture the moment as well as the trophy and Morgan senses just how much is at stake.

“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. The impact of the Women’s World Cup two years ago was amazing, the women’s game is thriving. It would mean a huge amount for us to win it.”

Morgan has noticed a shift in tone as he has travelled around the capital of late, with his typically quiet journeys on the underground now attracting a growing number of fans.

“Certainly on the tube I’ve been getting attention, which is rare,” he said.

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 Eoin Morgan

“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.”

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.”

England have already settled on the 11 players that will start the tournament, with Liam Plunkett tipped to take the final spot in the bowling line-up.

Mark Wood may well end up pushing hard for that place as the group stage unfolds but a recent scare over his troublesome left ankle might have persuaded the management to hold him back for a few more days.

Despite that Morgan was happy to confirm the squad were all fit and available following a spate of fitness worries including his own dislocated finger.

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Mark Wood is pushing for the final bowling spot (Mark Kerton/PA)

Asked if England were looking to make a statement with the manner of their performance or simply bank their first winning points, Morgan was unequivocal.

“A win under any circumstances,” he responded.

PA

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