MORGAN'S MEN by Nick Hoult and Steve James

by Nick Hoult and Steve James

Published by Allen & Unwin, c/o Atlantic Books
Ormond House,
26-27 Boswell Street,
London WC1N 3JZ



Pages: 328

MRP: £18.99


Cricket's twelfth men's World Cup, forty-four years after the tournament's inception in 1975, saw England crowned champions for the first time at the end of very possibly the greatest ODI of all time. Morgan's Men, written by two renowned journalists in The Daily Telegraph's Nick Hoult and Steve James of The Times, sees how England made it at the last gap through the eyes of the England team.

Morgan's Men starts during the previous World Cup tournament in 2015, a competition where England had again been eliminated early on. Indeed, since reaching the final in 1992 when they lost to Pakistan, their record had been poor. Prior to 1992, they had reached two finals and two semi-finals but the greatest prize had eluded them. The 2019 tournament started in comparatively uncharted territory, starting it as favourites after rollicking performances, mostly on the batting front, since their poor showing in the 2015 competition.

In these days of media coverage, we may feel that we know the players comparatively well but in Morgan's Men, I did find that much more could be learnt about them. Their backgrounds, their ways of finding contentment and their interests all added much to what many will remember by revisiting the scorecards of the dramatic tournament, especially its finale.

Also interesting to read is the preparation that went into becoming world champions for the first time. Times have certainly changed, and although my eyebrows were raised at reading at the length and depth of their preparation - doubtless like other teams - which included the vast amount of research which performance analyst Nathan Leamon did to devise a winning strategy on how other teams had won the World Cup previously, it does show what modern sport involves.

Eoin Morgan's tactics and captaincy skills are mentioned and many of the points help to make better sense of the match situations. In the year leading up to the World Cup, England conceded runs per over at a rate not far short of their impressive batting rate. Nick and Steve, through the players, have detailed what the plans were for each player and again made more sense to me of what I had been witnessing. Teams in the 2019 tournament initially preferred to chase but that changed when the nature of the pitches was established. A good number of losses befell teams who had inserted the opposition, one example being England chasing 349 to defeat Pakistan (but only just failing).

There were issues before and during the tournament. Injuries are always a possibility and, although playing conditions and rules have been different during the various World Cup competitions, only Pakistan in 1992 have become the champions after losing three matches en route to winning the competition, the same number as England in 2019. The Stokes and Hales saga after an an ODI in Bristol is well documented. The ECB's relaxation of residency qualification rules which allowed Jofra Archer to be considered for selection and ultimately picked is also mentioned. Archer would become one of the main heroes but the ECB's earlier decision caused unease amongst some of the other bowlers before the tournament started.

All of England's matches are analysed, with quotes, during the tournament. We all had a long day during the epic final on 14 July, the main part of the match ending with the scores level on 241, New Zealand having lost fewer wickets. Spare a thought for them, luck having deserted them towards the end of the main part of the match and then finding themselves requiring the extra run in the Super Over to avoid losing via boundary count, a tournament decision since scrapped by the ICC. They failed by feet and, of the two competing finalists never to have previously won the World Cup, it was England, amidst much rejoicing, who claimed the crown.

There is also an excellent statistical section which includes figures for all teams although the included scorecards just concentrate on the subject of the book, England.

Morgan's Men is an ideal book for all England cricket supporters who enjoyed, sat and suffered during the epic final and ultimately rejoiced.