Cricket Debate: Captain Morgan v Player Morgan

One moment I think Morgan is over rated, too arrogant, overly selfish and not flexible enough. Then I look at what he has achieved, what the experts say about him, his record and I listen to him and it is hard not to be impressed or swayed onto the favourable side. Then there is the old adage of criticise only when you can suggest an alternative, which currently curtails all debate as to whether he should be Englands White Ball captain. He should. The obvious successor is his mate Jos Butler who I have no doubt would do an adequate job, but I can’t help but think it would be a case of more of the same: if Morgan is “his own man” then Butler seems to be “a Morgan man”. I am not sure we would get anything that different (which is not necessarily that bad) but it would be a case of change for change sake at this moment in time.

And Morgans record as captain and the esteem (awe) he is held in by almost all would tend to indicate that there is no reason to change.

Or is there?

The media as is their want went straight in with the bubble bursting question mid 2019 World Cup celebrations asking Morgan if he was planning on carrying on until the next World Cup. Amongst all the inevitable and justifiable platitudes he rolled out I recall him also commenting that it really depended on how his back held up and if he was in form. He was clear that he would drop himself if he felt it was right for the team.

As far as I can tell his back seems fine, and the reality is that if he is unfit he is unfit and Butler will take over and a replacement will be found, possibly Billings. We can go with Billings for the sake of this debate.

Listening to Morgan on Sky this week he made a great point that what he wanted in the team were players that were the best at influencing a game: not necessarily the best players but impact players. The combination of these impact players created the team.

If we look at Morgan the captain I will accept the case that he is the best captan to make an impact on the game as captain. Let’s not debate that, or worry about it.

On the other hand though, is he the best batter in his position still to make an impact on the game? I am struggling to recall too many instances recently when he has done it when it was really needed, in fact in recent games I have been somewhat critical of his approach. Now it may well be a case of not being in form, rising to the big occasion, but my his own requirements I don’t think he is the best in his position anymore, and someone like Billings would bring a better balance into the team being right handed in that middle order which is very ‘leftie’ dominant: Stokes, Malan, Ali, Morgan, Curran – the World Cup is in India remember.

If we accept (and many will not) that Morgan is not a a justifiable selection as a player based on his own priorities then we are left with the Brearley debate: can the team ‘carry’ him as a player. What was possible over a 5 day Test with Brearley surely isn’t possible over such a short format game as the T20, so my rather extremely contentious conclusion is that it is time to try life without Morgan.

Which begs the question that when you have an all powerful leader who will tell the Emperor and remind him of his own words.

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