Eoin Morgan ponders international retirement amid form and fitness woes

·3 min read
<span>Photograph: Shaun Botterill/PA</span>
Photograph: Shaun Botterill/PA

Eoin Morgan could be set to announce his retirement from international cricket this week with England’s World Cup-winning captain understood to have been mulling over his future in recent days.

The 35-year-old has been battling with form and fitness problems this year, most recently registering two ducks in the one-day international series against the Netherlands in Amstelveen before pulling out of the third match with what was officially described as a “groin issue”.

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But the Guardian has since learned from separate sources that he could be poised to draw stumps on a career that revolutionised England’s white‑ball cricket over the past seven years and helped to deliver the 50‑over World Cup at Lord’s in 2019.

Morgan played in a corporate match at the ground on Saturday – something of a surprise given the injury last week – but has since withdrawn from a scheduled appearance for the cricket charity Chance to Shine at a school in Hackney on Tuesday.

Should Morgan call time on one or both formats, the expectation is that Jos Buttler would step up as captain, having been vice-captain since 2015 and led the team 13 times. Moeen Ali, another to deputise in recent times, would also be a candidate.

Morgan pondering his future before the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year – and the defence of the 50-over title in India in 2023 – is understandable, having created one of the most feared white-ball batting lineups in world cricket and a well of talent in reserve that has left little scope for passengers.

He has been backed by Matthew Mott, the new white-ball head coach, and Rob Key, the director of England men’s cricket. But he has made just two half‑centuries from his past 28 international innings across the two white-ball formats.

In interviews before the Netherlands tour he admitted he was feeling his age and struggling to recover physically after matches, telling Sky Sports: “If I don’t think I am good enough or I don’t feel I am contributing to the team, then I will finish.”

Morgan’s place in English cricket history is already assured, having switched allegiance from Ireland in 2009 and initially slotted into the England middle order as a dynamic left-hander with a then unique ability to hit to all parts of the ground.

He then took over the captaincy of the ODI team from Alastair Cook on the eve of the 2015 World Cup in Australia and, though that campaign failed, he held on to the role and became the catalyst for a revolution alongside the former head coach Trevor Bayliss.

If the time has indeed come in both formats, Morgan would step aside with nearly 7,000 runs and 13 centuries for England from 225 ODIs, and just shy of 2,500 runs from 115 T20s. He also won 16 Test caps between 2010 and 2012, scoring two centuries.

India are next up for England’s white-ball teams, with three T20s and three ODIs starting at the Ageas Bowl on 7 July. South Africa then follow for six more fixtures.

India also face England next week in the rescheduled fifth Test from their 2021 series, and may be without their captain, Rohit Sharma, who has tested positive for Covid-19. Sharma did not bat on Saturday in India’s second innings during their warm-up match against Leicestershire and is now in self-isolation.

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