Eoin Morgan could lay claim to being English cricket’s best ever captain if he lifts the Twenty20 World Cup, according to former team-mate Ryan Sidebottom.
Morgan’s modest form with the bat has attracted plenty of attention of late, with the 35-year-old suggesting he could even drop himself if it benefited the team, but he remains among the most respected leaders in the global game.
When it comes to the question of England’s greatest skipper there are several familiar answers – be it Mike Brearley or Michael Vaughan, Douglas Jardine or Sir Andrew Strauss – but all built their legacy in Test cricket.
Morgan’s brief flirtation with that format ended almost a decade ago but his stewardship of the white-ball side has been remarkable, transforming them from also-rans to 50-over world champions and the ICC’s top-ranked T20 team heading into the current tournament.
Sidebottom was a key part of the side that won the competition in 2010, alongside a young Morgan, and he believes a repeat performance would put the Dubliner top of the pile.
“Arguably he would be the greatest captain England has ever had, in terms of success on a global level and what he has brought to the England unit,” Sidebottom told the PA news agency.
“All of those great captains were fantastic man managers and that’s the beauty of Morgy, he gets the best out of every single player. You can clearly see they love playing for him. He knows them inside out, how they feel on the day and what they need at any time.
“You can see what a calming influence he is – never gets flustered, never shakes his head or shrugs his shoulders. He’s always cool under pressure, no matter what, and I think that rubs off on his bowlers particularly.
“When you’ve got a captain who backs you it just means so much to a player, whether it’s your first game or your 100th game. He speaks very, very well, he knows how he wants his players to be perceived and there’s his batting style. With everything he brings to the table, could he be the greatest captain England has had? Most definitely.”
Sidebottom memorably kept the great James Anderson on the sidelines throughout England’s triumphant Caribbean campaign more than a decade ago, with England favouring the variety of his left-arm angle.
Morgan has a pair of southpaws in his squad this time, David Willey and Tymal Mills, and their predecessor approves.
“That variation at the top of the order and at the death is huge,” he said.
“It makes it much more difficult for the batsmen. I think England have seen left-armers have become one of the best options in competitions around the world and now they’re using it more regularly. You have Dave Willey, a genuine wicket-taker in the powerplay, and Tymal is someone England have been crying out for.
“He has different types of skills – from 90mph to a big change-up and he’s going to be a huge part of this England line-up. There are definite similarities between this team and ours in the style of cricket, but they are so much better, stronger and more athletic than we are.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if England win the trophy. That would be amazing after the last few years with Covid and everything else, to win another global tournament and get that feelgood factor back again.”