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England captain set to earn record-breaking achievement in India.
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On the verge of being awarded his 100th IT20 cap, the man who gave Eoin Morgan his debut has labelled the captain brave, calm and fearless on his way to creating a legacy for English cricket.
Morgan is set to lead England for the 57th time in the shortest format when he takes to the field in Ahmedabad on Tuesday, and Paul Collingwood has heaped praise on England’s white-ball leader.
The Middlesex batsman will be the first player for England and only the fourth player in the world to reach three figures, following on from Shoaib Malik (116), Rohit Sharma (108) and Ross Taylor (102) to underline his position amongst the world’s best and most important T20 players.
To date, Morgan’s 99 caps have produced 2,306 runs at an average of 30.34 with a strike-rate of 138.99 and a remarkable 113 sixes, numbers that compare favourably amongst those who have remained at the top of international cricket for 100 caps such as Morgan.
Current England assistant coach Collingwood is no stranger to a long and successful international career, the all-rounder having led his country to their first ever limited overs world tournament win in 2010, alongside Morgan.
One of Collingwood’s 301 appearances for England saw him hand a debut to Morgan in the 2009 T20 World Cup, and he explains how it was the start of something special for the national side, recovering from an immediate low to winning the 2010 tournament in just his 12th game.
“The first thing that you could see was a young guy who was fearless and had his own way of going about things,” said Collingwood. “It was a modern way and a way that we hadn’t done before, we hadn’t chosen those types of players before and he had an approach that was ahead of the game.
“It was a disappointing start against the Netherlands, one I will always remember as captain. In anybody’s career you have to go through those rough periods, you have to experience the highs and the lows and certainly through Morgs’ career you can probably say the lows that he has experienced has built his leadership and how he wants his teams to play.
“He came into the side and we turned things around in a short space of time and won the World Cup in 2010 in Barbados. He was an integral part of that set-up. A fun, free-spirited young guy in the side who loved the free approach that we were trying to incorporate into our T20 cricket at that time.”
Collingwood himself showed great leadership and industry to turn around the fortunes of his country in 20-over cricket. With Morgan part of his team, early fifties against South Africa, Pakistan and West Indies set the platform for his England career under the guidance of the Durham man who has watched his development as a leader since the early days.
“When he first came into the side you wouldn’t have put him down as somebody who would be such a strong leader, he was fun-loving but what he has done in terms of leadership is be really focused on where he wants to be. The 2015 experience in Australia hit him as hard as any experience throughout his career and he wanted to do it his way and he got the opportunity to do so.
“Since then he has really created not just a fantastic white-ball team, I genuinely think when he goes which is hopefully many years down the line he will leave a legacy. I say that because the white-ball cricket in this country has completely changed since that moment when we came back from 2015.”
After a vote of confidence from then Director of England Cricket Andrew Strauss following the 2015 World Cup, Morgan quickly transformed their fortunes, leading his side to within a few balls of winning the T20 World Cup in 2016 before lifting the 50-over World Cup in 2019.
“From an individual perspective, his batting is still world-class. To have his fearless approach you have to be very brave because if it doesn’t go right then you are going to look pretty silly. To have that clarity to how he wanted the team to go about things, a clarity of the environment and the trust, to me that is how he has built this team, it’s not necessarily the talent, it’s the clarity on how he wants people to play. That’s been the integral part behind the success of this amazing story really.
“Morgs has that calmness about him, when you are in his company and when the team is out on the pitch he makes you feel like we have everything under control. He gets the best out of his players so you can see why he is so successful because it is so enjoyable to play under that kind of leadership, he is trying to take the training environment out to the middle so it allows players to have that freedom to express themselves in training.”
Collingwood now supports Morgan as part of England’s backroom staff and he has a simple message to the man who is set to receive his 100th IT20 cap on Tuesday afternoon.
“Keep going, simple as that. The job is not finished and as much success as he’s had as captain, he still has plenty to give. It’s an amazing achievement what he has done to get 100 caps in any format of the game. To do it as captain with 50-odd appearances as captain under your belt is a fantastic achievement but let’s not stop here, let’s keep going and celebrate a major achievement tomorrow, but also its unfinished business as well.”