Mor­gan’s high-risk ap­proa

Eng­land cap­tain de­fies age to find bat­ting form of his life Strike rate and six-hit­ting put him back among T20 elite

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport | Cricket - By Tim Wig­more

As Eoin Mor­gan waltzed to a 33-ball 66 to set up Eng­land’s vic­tory in the sec­ond Twenty20 in­ter­na­tional over Pak­istan, the thought took hold that there is just a hint of late­ca­reer Roger Fed­erer to him now. Af­ter ful­fill­ing his des­tiny and se­cur­ing his legacy, the cap­tain is play­ing for the sim­ple love of it – and has be­come more dan­ger­ous.

Mor­gan’s lat­est trick has been to up­grade his T20 game just when, aged 33, many as­sumed he would gen­tly wind down. Over 48 T20 in­ter­na­tion­als from 2013 un­til the start of last sum­mer, he av­er­aged 23 with a strike rate of 128. Since May 2019, he is av­er­ag­ing 58 with a strike rate of 185: rar­efied lev­els of con­sis­tency and ex­plo­sive­ness.

Mor­gan, who sel­dom feels the need to talk up his game, be­lieves that he is in the form of his life. Bren­don McCul­lum echoed that sen­ti­ment af­ter sign­ing Mor­gan for Kolkata Knight Rid­ers. The mere fact of Mor­gan be­ing signed by the In­dian Premier League – he had gone un­sold in the 2018 and 2019 auc­tions – was an­other sign of his re­turn to the elite of T20 bat­ting.

Across all T20 cricket since the start of last year, he is ranked the sec­ond-best bats­man in the world by CricViz’s met­rics, worth 7.8 runs more than an av­er­age re­place­ment player. From 2015 to 2018, Mor­gan was rated equal only to an av­er­age re­place­ment player.

Mor­gan has of­ten spo­ken about the need to ac­cept risk in T20.

“Ev­ery de­ci­sion should be an ag­gres­sive de­ci­sion,” he said, in an in­ter­view for

“When you peg back you feel safe, but you should go the other way.”

The defin­ing trait of late-ca­reer Mor­gan is per­haps his em­brace of risk at the start of his in­nings. Be­tween 2015 and 2018 and from 2019 on­wards, his strike rate in his first five balls of T20 in­ter­na­tion­als has risen from 88 to 128, and his strike rate in his first 10 balls from a mod­est 104 to an im­pe­ri­ous 152.

If part of Mor­gan’s idea of go­ing the other way means be­ing in­trepid from his first de­liv­er­ies, it also means hit­ting the ball where field­ers can­not stop it: over their heads. Per­haps this has been the big­gest change of all in Mor­gan: his meta­mor­pho­sis into a player who now reg­u­larly clears the ropes.

Dur­ing his first 80 T20 in­ter­na­tion­als, Mor­gan hit 78 sixes – one ev­ery 17.5 balls. Since the start of last sum­mer, he has hit 32 of his 251

2500 RUNS 2000 1500 1000 500 0 In­nings of 50 or more MATCHES

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