x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Morgan plays down possibility of leadership in the near future

The understudy to T20 captaincy has faith in England's three-captain model.

Ian Bell, centre, will be back in the England limited-overs side after the batsman was overlooked for the one-off Twenty20 game.
Ian Bell, centre, will be back in the England limited-overs side after the batsman was overlooked for the one-off Twenty20 game.

Eoin Morgan is relishing his elevation to England's ever-growing leadership group but has dismissed suggestions he could soon usurp the team's new limited-overs captains.

Following the World Cup - and Andrew Strauss's one-day retirement — Andy Flower, the team director, oversaw a radical change in policy, with Alastair Cook installed as one-day international captain and Stuart Broad taking the Twenty20 reins.

Morgan's new role, Broad's T20 understudy, is essentially the most junior one, but there have already been suggestions that he is destined for greater things.

Cook's tenure begins with today's clash against Sri Lanka at The Oval, but there have been questions over whether he will cement his place in the side, while Broad, who saw his side routed by the tourists in Bristol on Saturday, is seen by some as too combustible for captaincy.

All of which has led to speculation that it is Morgan who could emerge as England's limited-overs leader.

The man himself waved away those notions, despite receiving heavyweight backing in the form of Michael Atherton.

"Well, that's a great compliment I suppose but I really can't see it happening," Morgan said. "I think both Alastair and Stuart are in for long reigns. There's no reason to suggest that won't happen, certainly nothing that's happened with the three-captains thing so far. It's just a question of communication. I don't think there has been any confusion so far.

"It's all been clearly defined. Alastair will take over today from Stuart and will give us a talk on what he expects. Everybody is talking the same language."

Morgan edged out the more experienced Ian Bell — who was controversially dropped from the Twenty20 batting line-up against Sri Lanka in Saturday's nine-wicket defeat — for the Twenty20 vice-captaincy after impressing England's management with a Skype interview conducted while he was on Indian Premier League duty.

And although he is keen to support Cook and Broad, Morgan admits he is happy to be involved in the decision-making process. "I just gave them [the selectors] my views on leadership and if they saw something they liked then I'm very pleased about that," he said.

Meanwhile, Sanath Jayasuriya will depart for life as a member of parliament after today's game. Thilina Kandamby, the Sri Lanka captain, wished the 1996 World Cup winner well.

"He is one of the biggest legends we have ever produced, probably the best one-day player we have had in our country," he said.