On a Melbourne February morning in 2014, Eoin Morgan was perched on a bench outside the England team hotel nursing a coffee. He looked refreshed, though in that typical Morgan way, where gauging his mood would be a fool’s lot. Morgan sat, supped and watched the world go by while, within the walls behind him, English cricket was falling over itself.
The night before, England were thumped by eight wickets in a Twenty20 at the MCG – the penultimate match of the 2013-14 tour that eventually saw them register only one competitive win (the fourth ODI at Perth) in 13 attempts.
An hour after play, news filtered through that Andy Flower – who had returned home after the Test series and handed the reins to Ashley Giles, the limited-overs coach at the time – was to be sacked. The next 10 hours were as chaotic as they come for the ECB. It had announced the news to pre-empt a scoop only to expose how underprepared it was for such a bombshell.
At a sharply arranged 8am press conference in a spare hotel suite, which had to be filled with a variety of chairs by the ECB’s media manager who hadn’t slept a wink, the chairman, Giles Clarke, read from a hastily prepared statement with all the enthusiasm of a man tasked with reading a list of his partner’s former lovers. He did not refuse questions but certainly did his utmost not to answer any. The tour finished a few days later in Sydney in predictably disastrous fashion.
This time around, Morgan as ODI and T20 captain knows how important it is to separate the red and white ball portions of the tour. To avoid running the same fate as a TV series that doesn’t quite nail matters in its opening burst and quickly descends into farce by the second season, when story arcs are abandoned and characters killed off in an attempt to bring a change for the better.
Sure enough, this is what Morgan was asked to address in the lead-up to Sunday’s ODI opener at the Melbourne Cricket Ground: how will he ensure what comes next is…