The entire country of England has fewer cricketers than the city of Mumbai. And yet England utterly dominates elite level cricket. The English are the reigning World Champions in One Day cricket and T20 cricket. And arguably they are the best test cricket team in the world at present (as India led by Jasprit Bumrah discovered last summer). The man who has played a catalytic role in this English renaissance is Eoin Morgan. In this Cricinfo interview Morgan is an almost walking talking case study of Carole Dweck’s influential concept of the “Growth Mindset” i.e. how we frame life’s challenges and goals in our mind have a big impact on our ability to improve our skillsets and our lives – see https://fs.blog/carol-dweck-
Morgan first lays out how he hit upon the idea that transformed English cricket (and is now sweeping across other international cricket teams): “”When you sit back and watch people bat, the very, very best always look to score first, and then, if it’s a good ball and you can’t score off it, you play a defensive shot,” Morgan said. “It takes a lot of drilling over the years but I don’t think it [the block] is at the forefront of everybody’s thinking now, whereas previously it was.”
He can be credited with being one of the architects of this batting revolution. There have been others, of course: Sri Lanka’s approach to the first 15 overs in ODI cricket around the 1996 World Cup was remarkable at the time. Morgan’s philosophy came to the fore in England after the 2015 World Cup, where they failed to make the quarter-finals. He described their exit as a “humiliation” and pinned their underperformance on their inability to score quickly enough or take advantage of changing playing conditions, which created fewer boundary riders.”
And then Morgan describes how he and England switched their mindset to the dominant team in international cricket: “England opted to pick an extra batter to drive the change in approach and decided that they would back players who were fearless, such as Alex Hales and Jason Roy. “It was a mindset of trying to put the opposition under pressure at every opportunity and not necessarily engaging with the scoreboard in order to manage the level of risk that we were taking on,” Morgan said.
Although it sounds like strike rate and boundary count would have been key to this kind of strategy, Morgan said it was actually how each ball was played that mattered. “It was about putting each bowler under pressure if you were given the opportunity. If you look for opportunities, they appear more often than if you weren’t looking for them. So trying to create those opportunities by imposing yourself on the game was part of it.”
That means just about any player who wants to play this way can. It’s not an approach only for those with long levers or a strong swing. It’s not about being able to use one’s feet to play shots like the sweep or reverse sweep or about timing or placement. It’s about the psyche of the person with the bat in the hand.
“It’s not technique at all. It’s all about mindset. It’s about accessing a part of your brain that you might not use early on in your innings, traditionally, but you might use it later on,” Morgan said.”
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