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England head coach questions Morgan criticism over 50-over World Cup fiasco
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England head coach questions Morgan criticism over 50-over World Cup fiasco

Eoin Morgan was among the more prominent critics of England’s feeble 50-over World Cup defence in India last winter but according to Matthew Mott, head coach, the former captain’s insight into the dressing room has its limits.

Speaking after Wednesday’s first Twenty20 against Pakistan in Leeds was thwarted by unrelenting rain, Mott was asked whether he and Morgan had made contact since that grim campaign. “No, we haven’t,” came Mott’s reply, after Morgan, naturally still close to many of the current crop, queried his messaging at the time.

Mott, who overlapped with Morgan for the final month of his captaincy, continued: “He was [critical] but family and friends got more upset than I did. Morgs is there to give an opinion. Initially, you take it a bit personally but he’s there to have an opinion and his opinion is actually none of my business. If he feels strongly about something, that’s for him.

“All I’ll say is, only the people within the dressing room can fully understand what’s going on. Once you leave, you might hear titbits of stuff but you don’t really know how the team is operating. I always respect Morgs and respect his opinion. He’s quite entitled to it.”

Morgan will be on the ground commentating when England defend their World T20 title in the Caribbean next month and his previous diagnosis appears to have been taken on board. Jos Buttler has recently admitted that communication must improve, while Mott has also drafted in one of Morgan’s past advisers in the sports psychologist David Young.

England coach Matthew Mott during the practice session at Headingley on TuesdayView image in fullscreen

It is an eye-catching short-term hire, Young having moved to his current full-time role at Manchester City after a key role during England’s triumphant 50-over World Cup campaign in 2019. His work included a key intervention before a pivotal group game against India when, with their campaign listing, the players were persuaded to open up about their fear of failure and reminded of the strengths that made them favourites in the first place.

Explaining the reappointment, Mott said: “[Young] has already been a great ally, making sure my messages are clear. It’s always good to have someone who’s a little bit removed from the squad to make sure you’re landing your messages. I’ve enjoyed that part of it.

“Clarity comes from making sure players stay true to their best game. I’ve never told a player how to play. These guys are much better than I ever was. But it’s making sure that if they’re veering away from their strengths, you can help them get back on track.

“As a group, we’ve made a commitment to be a bit more open in and around our training sessions to help each other out a bit more. I think in India all of us were guilty of being a bit insular and trying to problem-solve ourselves.”

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In contrast to the Test set-up, where the head coach, Brendon McCullum, has deliberately pared back his support staff, England’s T20 squad will not be short of advice in the Caribbean. Young joins an already bumper roster under Mott that features two assistant coaches, Richard Dawson and Carl Hopkinson, England’s lead bowling coach, Neil Killeen, plus two additional consultants in Kieron Pollard and Andrew Flintoff.

What they will be slightly shorter on is game time before their opener against Scotland on 4 June, with the washout at Headingley leaving only three remaining T20s against Pakistan before the flight to Barbados a week on Friday. The second, at Edgbaston this Saturday, also comes after the deadline for England to confirm their final squad.

As such, no changes are expected to be forthcoming, with England confident about the readiness of Jofra Archer after his 14-month injury layoff and unconcerned that Liam Livingstone and Mark Wood are not yet match-fit due to respective knee niggles.

Mott added: “We’re pretty close [to knowing our best XI]. We’re not going to broadcast it but we’re confident with the structure and the options we’ve got. There’s a lot of good batting units out there but ours is certainly the equal of any. On our day, it’s a really formidable lineup.”

Source: theguardian.com