Eoin Morgan (left) © Getty Images
Eoin Morgan (left) © Getty Images

 

Graeme Swann, Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan, Ajmal Shahzad, Paul Collingwood… that’s quite a list of players, but the one name missing from the battered and bruised side after the England-Australia ODI series is the most important – Eoin Morgan.

 

That might sound odd. Swann and Broad, in particular, are key cogs in the England wheel. They are ranked seventh and ninth in the world respectively, while Morgan doesn’t even sneak into the top ten batsmen. But what Morgan adds to England cannot be quantified by stats alone.

 

That said, the stats are kind to him. Since his England ODI debut in May 2009, no one has played more games for England. And only Strauss has scored more runs. Only Steve Davies of England’s regular batsmen has scored his runs faster than Morgan’s 88 runs per 100 balls. Of the three games Morgan has missed since his debut, England won only one – and that was against Ireland. With Morgan in the side, England’s run rate is 5.3, without him its 4.7.

 

But like I said, it’s about more than the numbers. When Morgan came into the side and started scoring runs regularly and winning matches from his No six position, he gave a certain confidence to those above him. When Morgan was in the side and in form, he became the crux of the Flower/Strauss ‘No Fear’ mantra. The batsmen in the top order could play their shots with confidence because they knew if they did make a mistake the exceptionally talented Morgan could dig England out of a hole. Of course this didn’t work every time, but for a while it worked beautifully; the top order, flush with confidence, made good starts and Morgan’s combination of paddles, sweeps and scoops built big scores and chased down tricky ones. He was the key, more than any other player in my opinion, to the ‘New England’, an England that ditched their habit of wilting under pressure.

 

So for these reasons and more, Morgan’s fractured finger sent reverberations through England’s 2011 World Cup chances.  On the slow pitches inevitable in the sub-continent, he would’ve prospered. His magnificent, match-winning Dhaka hundred in 2010 showed his potential. With batting form in limited supply right through England’s order, the absence of Morgan’s inventiveness, power and sheer talent will leave a gaping hole in the side.

 

(Josh is a long-time lover of cricket of all creeds. He’ll just as happily sit and watch a game of village cricket as gather among the thousands at The Oval to watch England.  A Surrey fan and member, he’s suffered enough humiliating losses but loves the county nonetheless, and England of course.  His favourite cricket memory, much to the annoyance of friends who have heard the story many a time, was being witness to Test cricket’s slowest-ever 12, from 96 balls by Rahul Dravid at The Oval in 2007)