Is England one-day captain Eoin Morgan risking his international career by refusing to tour Bangladesh on security fears?
Morgan is understood to have explained his reluctance to tour with the one-day squad during the recent one-day series with Pakistan and it remains highly unlikely this stance – which has been informed by bad experiences on the subcontinent in the past and the fact England will be the first side to tour Bangladesh since the 1 July attacks in Dhaka – will have been reversed.
He is now left with a few hours to reverse his stance for the month-long trip before ECB director of cricket Andrew Strauss and the selectors finilise the list of players available for the tour. An announcement on any withdrawals is then expected to be made on Sunday.
While how a withdrawal by Morgan, who turns 30 on Saturday, affects his future captaincy remains to be seen, former England skipper Nasser Hussain has suggested that his future authority may be affected. He is a popular leader as things stand, having overseen an upturn in fortunes for the limited overs side since the 2015 World Cup.
England’s defeat against Bangladesh in the World Cup down under still remains the lowest point in Morgan’s captaincy. But since then England prospered as the most competitive unit under his leadership.
But his latest stance on touring a country where he made several previous visits and played in Bangladesh’s domestic T20 tournament, sparked criticism even in English media.
“Morgan will on Saturday take the biggest gamble of his career and jeopardise his international future when he tells England he will not go to Bangladesh”, wrote Paul Newman in the Daily Mail.
“It is a huge call by Morgan, who also met Strauss on Friday. He knows he is in a minority — probably of two — not to take the advice of England’s highly regarded security expert Reg Dickason that it is safe for the squad to go to Bangladesh”, observed Nweman.
He even questioned Morgan’s leadership.
“For Morgan, though, it is very different both because of his responsibilities to the team as their captain and his own indifferent form that saw him go 21 international innings without a 50, before two half-centuries against Pakistan. Strauss, for one, is entitled to feel let down by the man he stuck with as captain after the debacle of the last World Cup, when Morgan seemed just as culpable as coach Peter Moores for England’s embarrassing performances.
That faith has been justified by England’s spectacular resurgence, with Morgan’s captaincy to the fore, but no longer can he be certain of leading his team in next year’s Champions Trophy and the World Cup in 2019.
How can he be when his young colleagues badly needed their captain to show the right example at a time of such uncertainty and lead from the front by joining them on the plane to Dhaka on September 29?
Newman also termed the Irish as the most introvert character in the England team.
He is the most detached and unemotional of characters, an Irish captain of England who refuses to sing the national anthem ahead of matches at major tournaments.
Not even his Middlesex team-mates claim to be close to Morgan, who was not afraid to turn his back on his native Ireland to fulfil his ambitions with his adopted country.
He has made big decisions since, notably when putting the Indian Premier League before his Test ambitions and making it clear he was fully behind England’s call to shun a man he was once relatively close to in Kevin Pietersen.
But this is the biggest and most controversial call yet. It is one that may come back to haunt him, not only if he loses his place but also if it compromises his future involvement in the IPL if there are further security scares in India.
After all, he cites his presence in Bangalore when a bomb went off ahead of an IPL game as one of the reasons for his reluctance to tour now.
And it is one that England are entitled to feel hugely disappointed about. For, unless Morgan does an abrupt and unexpected about-turn, he will be letting down the adopted country that made him their one-day captain, wrote Nowman.