Mission accomplished for Morgan as he hails ‘superhuman’ Stokes
England were led by a man born in Dublin but this team had so much more than the luck of the Irish. It was a multicultural team built in the image of the nation.
Led by Morgan, raised on the east coast of Ireland, inspired by Cantabrian Ben Stokes and turning to Bridgetown’s Jofra Archer in the Super Over, it was the diversity of this team that helped England to a first ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup victory.
Leg-spinner Adil Rashid told Morgan that they even had Allah on their side as a country united around these men who have come from all parts to play a fearless, ambitious brand of cricket.
And for Morgan, that diversity was never more evident than under the biggest pressure of a Super Over in the final of a World Cup.
He said: “I spoke to Adil, he said Allah was definitely with us. I said we had the rub of the green.
“It actually epitomises our team. Quite diverse backgrounds and cultures and guys grow up in different countries and to actually find humour in the situation we were in at times was pretty cool.”
That England were able to smile and laugh as they prepared for the Super Over is testament to the confidence in the group.
Morgan has urged his players throughout this World Cup to embrace the occasion, not to shy away from the biggest moments.
When it came down to it, and a World Cup was going to be decided by six balls, Morgan’s team did just that.
“I encouraged them to smile, laugh, enjoy because it was such a ridiculous situation, where there was quite a lot of pressure in that particular moment of the day, never mind the rest of it, and the fact it got to a Super Over and we had that to defend,” he added.
“It was a matter of trying to put smiles on the guys’ faces to release a bit of tension and the guys responded brilliantly to that.”
If Archer epitomised that carefree attitude more than anyone, seemingly unfazed by the pressure of the biggest over of his life in his first season of international cricket, it was Stokes who will be the abiding image of this final and this World Cup.
Three years after Carlos Brathwaite had launched him into the Kolkata night four times in as many balls to wrest the ICC World Twenty20 from England’s hands, Stokes did the same to New Zealand with his unbeaten 84 followed by eight of England’s 15 in the Super Over.
All Morgan could do was admire him.
He added: “To come through it is extraordinary. (Ben) is almost superhuman. He really carried the team and our batting line-up. I know Jos (Buttler) and his partnership was extraordinary, but to bat with the lower order the way he did, I thought was incredible.
“The atmosphere, the emotion that was going through the whole game, he managed to deal with that in an extremely experienced manner. And obviously everybody watching at home will hopefully try and be the next Ben Stokes.
“I have said this a number of times about Ben. I think a lot of careers would have been ended after what happened in Calcutta.
“Ben on numerous occasions has stood up individually and in a unit for us. He leads the way in training, in any team meetings we have, and he’s an incredible cricketer. And today he’s had a huge day out and obviously we are thankful for that.”
Morgan enters hallowed territory as an English World Cup-winning captain, joining the likes of Bobby Moore and Martin Johnson.
He was quick to play down those comparisons, insisting he will be happy to continue the quiet life, even after leading England to a victory whose repercussions for cricket in this country will continue long after his career has come to an end.
He added: “There’s no Mount Rushmore. Primrose Hill, that’s about it.
“I’m not sure (my life has changed). I hope it hasn’t changed that much. I enjoy my life.
“I lead quite a quiet one, so I hope it hasn’t changed too much. I would love it to change for everybody else who wants it to change, but I enjoy my life.”