The uncertainty regarding the IPL has left Eoin Morgan bummed, for the England captain was eager to turn out for Kolkata Knight Riders in what would have been his second stint with the franchise. Morgan was picked by KKR at the December auction for Rs 5.25 crore after winning a bidding war against the Delhi Capitals and as excited as he was to play for the two-time IPL champions, those plans have been seemingly shelved owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I was extremely excited, particularly going back to Kolkata. I had three seasons there that I thoroughly enjoyed before,” Morgan told KKR.in. “They’re one of the best run teams, everything from the owners right down to the young players. I like the planning, and when you look at the IPL as a whole since the very beginning, they are one of three teams that has had the most success and it’s easy to see why they have.

“The level of consistency that they show and I suppose the belief in retaining that group of core players… Probably, the other two teams are Mumbai and Chennai you know. They really do back the players, and they have done so from the very beginning. If they believe that the guy has the right values or leadership skills to take the team forward, they stick with them.”

Morgan’s first stint with the team began in 2011, when he was acquired by the franchise for $350,000 at the 2011 IPL auctions and went in to play three seasons, scoring 444 runs from 26 matches across two seasons. He did not play a single game when KKR won their maiden IPL trophy in 2012 but fondly remembers the celebrations and the madness following the triumph.

“2012 was a pretty chaotic season, and being in a squad where you win it (the IPL) for the first time, you see the reaction when we returned to the city (Kolkata). I literally returned for a couple of hours and then flew out but people aligned the streets. I remember Eden Gardens being full, all the pictures of the boys going around and doing lap of honour… Just to see the pure joy on peoples’ faces about how proud they were to support a team was amazing,” he said.

For his second tenure with the side, Morgan said he was keen to pick KKR skipper Dinesh Karthik’s brains on leadership in India. Being a World Cup winning skipper himself, Morgan could add a helping hand when needed.

“I’ve spoken to DK a lot and I met up with him just before Christmas when I was out in Mumbai. He’s a fantastic guy, a great cricketer and I’m looking forward to helping him in whatever way I can. While I’m here to help, I also want to learn as much as I can from him. There are a lot of dynamics about being a captain when you’re playing in India that I don’t know about, I’ll be picking his brain the whole time.” Morgan explained.

“I’ll naturally be myself and try to give as much as I can just like the rest of the international players. But it’s going to be fascinating to see how and when we get to play and how the competition lines up. Because everybody is going to come out of isolation extremely excited, rearing to go, batting, bowling, fielding the whole lot.”

Morgan was equally excited to work alongside good friend Brendon McCullum. Morgan has time and again stated how it was England’s loss to New Zealand in the 2015 World Cup what launched their revival, and leading that group of dynamic players in the final of the World Cup was a fearless McCullum, who remains every bit of an inspiration for the England skipper.

“I’m very lucky to be able to call him one of my good mates. Over the years, we’ve gotten to know each other really well. Actually our relationship first blossomed at Kolkata, where the two of us played together,” he said.

“I think his contribution not only to New Zealand cricket but to world cricket really took the front in 2015 with their campaign – throughout the 2015 World Cup. They really did, I suppose, transform the fate of a nation and the hope of a nation in the way that they played. They played aggressive, positive cricket but also in a way that wasn’t in your face the whole time. It was really good to watch, it created a huge amount of attraction and I think majority of the time actually the way that they play and the manner that they play overlooks the skill level that they produce. And I think Baz is the reason for that turn around. I think he has had a huge input in the way they’ve played and in all formats as well not just white ball.”