Belfast Telegraph

England will avenge Black Caps humiliation: Morgan

 

Set right: Eoin Morgan reflects on England’s 2015 collapse against New Zealand
Set right: Eoin Morgan reflects on England’s 2015 collapse against New Zealand

By Rory Dollard

Eoin Morgan is eyeing one of the biggest wins of his England career today 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 a 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 floodlights 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 complete 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 well enough.

"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 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 after injury concerns.

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 said.

"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."

India returned to winning ways as a 28-run victory over Bangladesh confirmed their place in the World Cup semi-finals and eliminated their Asian neighbours.

Rohit Sharma took centre stage again as he became only the second player in World Cup history to score four hundreds in the same tournament.

His opening partnership of 180 with KL Rahul - the highest at this World Cup - laid the base for India to exorcise the demons of defeat to England at the same Edgbaston ground less than 48 hours earlier.

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