Nick Knight: Being England's captain can be just what Eoin Morgan needs

He has been such a key player in one-day cricket for so long

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The Independent Online

The fourth one-day international on Sunday is set up as an absolutely fascinating game, with England getting back into the series but their captain, Alastair Cook, has been banned for one game because of a slow over rate in Hambantota. The selectors are searching for stability but Cook’s suspension has created instability.

Eoin Morgan will captain the side. He has been such a key player for England in one-day cricket for so long. At his best he is an instinctive and fearless player but  he’s struggling for runs in the same vein and when you’re going through an extended period of poor form you can also suffer intense periods of introspection and self-doubt.

But being captain on Sunday might be just what he needs. As the coach, Peter Moores, said, thinking about other people in the team can serve as a distraction to help take his mind off his own problems. And I like his captaincy very much, he’s proactive and aggressive, like his batting at its best. And he cares desperately about one-day cricket.

So how do these experienced players go about finding their form again? Get the video out, look back at your best performances and remember your state of mind. You just have to remember what has made you such a good player. In Morgan’s case, it’s his fearlessness that’s the key. Whatever the game situation, he plays the same way, whether he’s coming in at 30 for 3 or 90 for 1. He needs to get back to that mental state.

England have shown their hand, they want Cook, Morgan and Ian Bell as the experienced core with the youngsters playing around them. In the last game it was two of the younger players, Joe Root and Joss Buttler, who saw them home, while Moeen Ali scored that brilliant hundred in the first match. So there are the makings of a good blend in the side.

In the absence of Cook I really hope James Taylor gets a go. He is a wonderful one-day player. Along with Alex Hales, Taylor was the best one-day player in county cricket last season and his ability to read a game situation is what impresses me most. For a small man he has plenty of power, which comes from his quick hands through the ball, and he can work the ball into gaps – something England have struggled with in recent times. Taylor’s also an exceptionally good fielder, so he can add some dynamism in that department.

If he does play, I’d like to see him bat at No 3 so the selectors can have a good look at him. After all, he may only be given one chance, so he doesn’t want to be coming in with only a couple of overs left.

England are stumbling across their best side at the moment. We’re hearing from all the players that it’s a healthy place to be, that there are places up for grabs. That’s one way of looking at it, but it’s also leading to some nervy performances.

A case in point is Hales. It was strange that he batted at three on Wednesday, because one of his great strengths is in the powerplay, the first 10 overs. He looked a bit befuddled in running out his partner Moeen and then getting himself out foolishly at a bad time. England have got to make these decisions, and soon. There is just too much uncertainty at the moment. In my opinion Hales should play every game.

If he moves up to open on Sunday, then Ravi Bopara can do the job at first drop if they want him to. They may go back to Bell, but I would give the opportunity to Taylor.

I was in charge of the coin toss today, and just looking at Cook he seemed like a man under real pressure. Sunday will be an incredibly frustrating and anxious day for him. His team have won a game and he  has shown some form with the bat and  now he has to sit and  watch from the sidelines. But what a great chance for Morgan to get back  to his best.

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