I trust you all had a very decent Christmas, and given the cricket has resumed (with the exception of the Ranji Trophy, which has carried on through the Holidays) I thought it’s time we did. So back on the 2016 Dmitri’s we go…..
As I said when I mentioned the thinking behind the Dmitris, the “awards” are given, if that’s the right word, to players, teams, individuals etc. who have played an important part in cricket during the year, or have had a key influence on the blogging side of things. There is little doubt that where Kevin Pietersen laid the ground for the latter, in 2016 Eoin Morgan has taken his place. Morgan divides opinion, he breaks the cricket fraternity out in a rash. There is nothing quite like watching righteous indignation in full flow.
Yet, back earlier in the year, it was all so different. Eoin Morgan was lauded, a great man, a talismanic leader, a man of iron will. Because of three words. That’s. From. Me. With those words he unleashed the blind fury. Morgan was taking ownership for the exclusion of Kevin Pietersen, as unlikely as any comeback might have been, in public, up front, no questions asked in a statement to Nasser Hussain in the Daily Mail. Piers Morgan went apoplectic, and some of the more vociferous KP supporters followed. Yes, I was angry at it, in every way that I was angry in the first place, but this wasn’t from him. If Morgan wanted KP he never could have said so. We all know that. We aren’t stupid. So yes, while the anti-KP band went over the top in their excitement, we had to take a step back.
But if Eoin Morgan thought that cunning could buy him love from the ECB media, he found out how long it took to upset them and become back in the negative column. One decision and he was in the firing line, with the big beasts of the press lined up firing at him. When Eoin Morgan even hinted that he wouldn’t make the trip to Bangladesh, the game was up. He is dead meat. It is only a matter of time before the fatal blow is inflicted upon him. The anger at putting his own personal wellbeing first, regardless of whether the reasons were iron-clad logical, far outweighed failures of captaincy on the field of others. It’s completely fair enough to have your team mess up week after week, but woe betide you go against conventional wisdom of what constitutes leadership.
Once that happens the “manipulation” of statistics we are often accused of is employed against Morgan. The recent lack of centuries being the main one. The lining up of sensational young talent who have not proved much being another. Ignore his captaincy, and the way the team plays with non-stop aggressive intent – Jos Buttler can do that on the back of a tight as you know what ODI series in Bangladesh that Eoin opted out of (in case you forgot). Morgan’s role, once front and centre, became Morgan the expendable. Because he now lacks the ability to lead his team.
This reached its nadir when Oliver Holt jetted out to Bangladesh in one of the most ridiculous stunts I’ve seen in a while. If you look sanctimony up in the Illustrated English Dictionary, Holt’s face would radiate out at you. Holt had a thing about Morgan and was going to go to Chittagong himself to show the world it’s safe. If the Mail’s chief sports writer, or whatever his puffed up title is, was brave enough to pitch up in Chittagong, then so should Morgan. Plus, Morgan’s bleeding Irish, so he’s a wrong ‘un anyway when it comes to playing for England. He doesn’t even sing the National Anthem, the money-grabbing little coward. As journalistic endeavours went, it was risible. Holt pitched in, and pitched out, wrote his nonsensical piece for the Mail on Sunday, and to be very fair, most of those who follow the game and write about it off the media wagon laughed at it for what it was. Holt being a dolt. I think I might have chipped in.
Our beloved Comma, a man of impeccable trust don’t forget, because that is important and trumps all, had said that if a player had reservations about going to Bangladesh they could opt out. Nothing would be held against them. So two players took them at his word, and the denizens of good manners and military leadership were up in arms. Newman is never going to stop mentioning it, reminding you of it. Selfey’s gonna tweet how great Reggie “best in the business” is. All the while Morgan is going to have any achievements downplayed, any failure augmented, any expression of non-regret castigated. It’s the way they play.
On here the debate caused some heat and light, but many came out in favour of Morgan’s right to choose not to play. Most pointed out the ludicrous calls to leadership standards. Many recognised the modus operandi. But most of all, many supported Morgan. Now he will need to repay that support because if he doesn’t, he’s sharkbait.
And that’s from me.