England take on New Zealand with a World Cup semi-final place up for grabs but Eoin Morgan’s motivation goes all the way back to 2015 and a “rock bottom” defeat in Wellington.
The Black Caps dealt out a brutal beating in the previous edition of the tournament, skittling England for 123 then reeling off the runs in a humiliating 12.2 overs.
The experience seared itself on the mind of Morgan, whose rookie captaincy might have ended in the aftermath of their dismal group-stage exit, but instead he used it as the catalyst for his team’s rise to prominence.
Morgan and company go into Wednesday’s game at Chester-le-Street knowing victory would guarantee them a place in the semi-finals, with defeat leaving them in danger of another gut-wrenching exit.
Reflecting on the chastening experience four years ago, the England skipper said: “It was as close to rock-bottom as I’ve been. Certainly as a captain and as a player.
“Being beaten off the park like that was humiliating. New Zealand proved a point that you can actually be really good humans and grow the game and play cricket in your own way and win at the same time, which is incredibly eye-opening for a lot of countries around the world.
“I thought that rubbed off on everybody in the World Cup.”
It certainly had the effect on England, who picked pieces from that blueprint and set them off on a journey that would take them from also-rans in 50-over cricket to number one in the world.
They surrendered that hard-won honour after back-to-back defeats but are back on track after beating India, the side who replaced them at the summit, by 31 runs last time out.
Opening batsman Jason Roy helped pave the way for that result, making 66 on his return after three games out with a torn hamstring. Morgan admitted prior to that match that it was a risk to recall the Surrey man at Edgbaston but appeared more confident this time.
“He’s good, he’s going to be fit for tomorrow’s game,” said the Dubliner.
“He’s in fantastic form, him and Jonny Bairstow at the top of the order. In the India game it really did set the tone for our innings on a wicket we feel wasn’t that good to bat on.”
There was an equally optimistic outlook on Jofra Archer, the side’s leading wicket-taker who has been managing a left side problem for several games now.
“He’s pulled up really well and should be fit to play,” said Morgan.
Provided by Press Association Sport
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