India v England: '˜Fantastic leader' Eoin Morgan backed to be big hitter again
Jos Buttler hailed England captain Eoin Morgan as a 'revolutionary' in a ringing endorsement of his leadership ahead of the second one-day international against India.
When Morgan traded his native Ireland eight years ago he was seen as an expansive, contemporary cricketer with bright ideas and a creative arsenal of strokes at his fingertips. It was a reputation he continued to build when the likes of Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell occupied the top slots in a 50-over team that failed to keep up with a rapidly-changing landscape.
Now, of course, he is the elder statesmen of the side, encouraging and empowering a generation of batsmen with an even wider range of shots and more punishing strike-rates than his own.
There is even talk that after a relatively lean 2016, which ended with him missing the tour of Bangladesh with safety concerns, his place could come under threat from Sam Billings and Jonny Bairstow.
But ahead of the action in Cuttack today, a game the tourists must win to keep the three-match series alive, Morgan was given a glowing tribute by the man who stood in as skipper in Dhaka and Chittagong.
“He brings a wealth of experience. He has a vision for the game and where he wants our side to get to. He’s a fantastic leader in that sense,” said Buttler.
“He really champions people playing in the way they believe and he shows that in the way he plays too. He was one of the first revolutionary players for England and that carries a lot of weight in the group, which is a pretty young one.
“He gives guys confidence, he’s very calm under pressure and everyone enjoys playing for him.”
Buttler acquitted himself well in Bangladesh, doing his prospects of a future leadership role no harm at all on a tricky tour both on and off the field.
For the time being, though, he is more than happy to concentrate on his role with bat in hand and supporting Morgan from behind the stumps.
“Vice-captain is a role I’ve enjoyed a under Eoin and it’s fantastic to have him back,” he said.
“As a keeper your role is always to come up with plans and advice for the captain and that’s something I’m enjoying doing again.
“I want to be someone who wins games of cricket for England - that’s my main driving force. “It’s a real motivation to stand up and take responsibility and I want to do it more and more.”
England know they face a formidable opponent at the Barabati Stadium, having come out on the losing end of a 700-run game in Pune.
They posted 350 for seven batting first, their best ever score against India, but were helpless to stop Virat Kohli and Kedar Jadhav score two stunning centuries in response.
In the end, the hosts claimed the win with three wickets and 11 balls in hand, raising questions of how much more was required to outgun Kohli, who has now scored a fearsome 27 one-day tons.
“He’s in fantastic form and has been for a long period of time. Guys have been constantly trying to come up with plans - not just us, but other teams as well,” said Buttler.
“Bowlers maybe need to change their mindset a bit, changing what you see as success. Maybe not going for a boundary is a success.”
There has been some suggestion that England could look to favour the short ball to unsettle Kohli, a plan that would probably lead to Liam Plunkett’s recall.
India opener KL Rahul, when asked if a flurry of bouncers might be the way to stop Kohli’s staggering run of form, smiled for a moment as he pondered the idea and offered England just two words: “Good luck.”