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
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
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