Morgan braved the January temperatures to take part in an outdoor session at a school in Islington as part of a drive to get a greater number of children taking an interest in cricket. While admitting “it’s going to be awesome” to open the tournament against South Africa on May 30, he said England were confident of rising to meet expectations given their sustained run of success.
“I think it’s quite cool that we have the opportunity to do that [inspire the next generation]. It would add to the pressure if we come off the back of hit-and-miss results, we were unsure about our team, our squad, or method in which we were playing. I think everything’s becoming more clear the more that we play. We still need to tinker here and there but that’s fine-tuning. But the opportunity to inspire, that’s huge.
“That’s one of the huge roles that the World Cup plays when it rolls into any country, growing the game. The Cricket World Cup and ECB are showing initiative in trying to get 1million kids involved in cricket that aren’t necessarily involved at the moment. The power of any world competition has that. It’s important to be able to engage, like today, in local schools, raising awareness of the nationalities and cultures of the teams that are coming. It’s all part of raising awareness.”
Morgan will meet with Ashley Giles on Tuesday, in order to catch up with England’s new director of cricket. Much has changed since they last worked together when Giles was England’s limited-overs coach in 2013 and 2014 – most strikingly the one-day blueprint set out by Andrew Strauss, Giles’ predecessor, in the wake of a disastrous 2015 World Cup.
That nadir for England, even when stacked up against a miserable World Cup record that includes going out at the group stage of the 1999 tournament at home, could well be the starting point for their finest hour.
“That World Cup played quite a significant part in us – myself, the selectors, the coach – in saying, we need to change where our priorities lie,” Morgan said. “We need to change the way that we play, we need to change the way that we select teams. So I think if we’d have limped to the quarter-final, that might not have happened. As much as it was one of the worst times of my career, I have to look back and be grateful that I’ve learned from it and I came through and Straussy still made me captain.”