World Cup win could create a cricketing legacy – Eoin Morgan

England's Eoin Morgan.England's Eoin Morgan.
England's Eoin Morgan.
England captain Eoin Morgan wants his side to embrace their chance to become heroes by lifting the World Cup on home soil.

The waiting is almost over for Morgan and company, who get the tournament under way against South Africa at the Oval this morning.

They go in ranked as world 
No 1 after four solid years on an upward trajectory and Morgan admits they have the chance to give their sport a once-in-a-lifetime lift over the next six weeks.

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“It would mean a huge amount, the World Cup alone raises the profile of the game and is a platform for every young kid in this country to have a hero or have the inspiration to pick up a ball or a bat,” he said.

“To go on and win it, I couldn’t imagine what that would do.”

After a series of injury scares over recent weeks, including his own dislocated finger, Morgan was happy to reveal that the entire squad go into the competition with a green light.

“I’m good and the team are very well. We’ve no injury concerns and we have a full bill of health for tomorrow,” he said.

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Asked if England were focused solely on getting a positive result or were just as eager to make a statement with the manner of their performance, the Dubliner was unequivocal. “A win under any circumstances,” he said.

Morgan confirmed the 11 had been chosen but will not announce it until the toss. Ten places seem all-but certain, with Liam Plunkett, Mark Wood and Tom Curran seemingly vying for the last shirt.

It was former Yorkshire bowler Plunkett who took his place in the main seam group at nets, possibly hinting that he had been given the nod on this occasion.

The power-brokers at the England and Wales Cricket Board are just as desperate as Morgan to seize their moment in the spotlight.

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With the Ashes series following hot on the heels of this 10-team showpiece, the chance to attract new fans and increase the sport’s foothold has never been more apparent.

Last summer it was football that had the country’s rapt attention as the Three Lions reached the final four in Russia, regaining some lost love for the national side in the process.

The architect of that campaign, Gareth Southgate, visited England’s training camp in Cardiff last month and made a big impression on those present. “We did the session with Gareth, who was brilliant, every one of our players enjoyed it,” said Morgan.

“He got up and talked about his journey with the team in and around the World Cup, but in the build-up as well – how they built bigger expectations and became more together as a group.

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“Everyone in the room recognised they are where we were two years ago. We started where they did: recognise what happened in the past, drawn a line under it.”

Morgan could not resist one waspish observation, though, nodding to his team’s failure to land a trophy two years ago compared to the footballers’ efforts.

“It’s amazing, they got to the semi-finals and everyone said it was great. We got to the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy and we were crap.”

The Middlesex batsman is known as an ice-cool leader, not prone to displays of naked emotion, but even he acknowledged the honour of leading out the host nation was a seismic one.

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“I dreamed about scoring a Test match hundred, and hitting the winning runs in a World Cup final, potentially,” he said. “But I never dreamt, even in my wildest dreams, that I would captain a home World Cup.

“The first game of a World Cup or the Ashes always feels different. That’s natural.

“We just can’t wait for tomorrow to come.”

Kevin Pietersen believes England’s acceptance of failure makes them the team to beat in the World Cup.

Pietersen believes Morgan’s team have been able to play with freedom, which has led to some scintillating performances.

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“The way that they play, they are definitely ranked No 1 in the world because of the way that they play,” he sad.

“The point of difference between the England of old and the England of now is that they are backed to fail, knowing their captain and coach will back them if they fail.

“And if when you fail you still get backed, then you are going to play some unbelievable cricket because you are going to go out there as a free spirit. The team culture and the way that Eoin Morgan is leading the team is nothing short of unbelievable.”

The last time England hosted a World Cup 20 years ago, it ended in disaster as they went out at the group stage and ended the summer as the lowest ranked Test team, missing a real opportunity to promote the game.

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Pietersen, who played in the 2007 and 2011 World Cups for England, was part of the side that won the 2005 Ashes so knows what impact as successful team can have on the country.

He added: “It is going to bring a lot of pressure, I could chuck that stupid cliche that pressure is a privilege, but you have got to take it on and understand that the time is now for an English team to step up because we haven’t won a World Cup, and it will just be amazing for the game of cricket.”