Bobby Moore, Martin Johnson and Heather Knight are part of a select group to have lifted the World Cup trophy in England colours but on the eve of the 2019 International Cricket Council (ICC) Men's World Cup final, Eoin Morgan has not allowed himself to dream of doing the same.
Morgan will lead England in their first ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup final in 27 years against New Zealand at iconic Lord’s Cricket Ground on Sunday, hoping to match England’s men’s football skipper Moore in 1966 and England women’s cricket captain Knight two years ago in lifting the trophy on home soil.
Following the emphatic eight-wicket victory over Australia in the semi-finals, and as the world’s No.1 team, England enter the game as favourites against the Black Caps.
However, despite that, Morgan is refusing even to consider what it might feel like to lead England to World Cup glory.
“I haven't allowed myself to think about lifting the trophy. Cricket and sport in particular is very fickle.If you ever get ahead, it always seems to bite you in the backside.For us to win it, I think around the country it would be awesome, great for the game," the ICC press release quoted Morgan as saying.
“It means a huge amount to me and everybody in the changing room (to be in the final).It's a culmination of four years of hard work, dedication, a lot of planning and it presents a huge opportunity to go on and try and win a World Cup," he added.
“I think for everybody around the country, the support we've had throughout has been unquestionable and it makes you feel extremely lucky to be part of a team that has that sort of support," Morgan continued.
England have built their success over the last four years on the foundation of aggressive batting and high scoring, in many ways, following the example of New Zealand four years ago.
Morgan has made no secret of his close relationship with former Black Caps skipper Brendon McCullum, with whom he played at Lord’s for Middlesex and who spearheaded that Kiwi style, and the pair caught up on the eve of the final at the Home of Cricket.
“We just caught up outside. Brendon is a very good friend of mine.He spoke about us making the final and playing New Zealand because he had to fly home for the semi-final, but he was flying back if New Zealand made it, so he's delighted that they did and he's in good form," Morgan said.
“I think he has had quite a bit to do with (our progress). You could say about world cricket. We are close mates and he's taught me a lot about leadership and I think in 2015 the way that New Zealand played, very similar to the way they are playing at the moment. They proved to everybody that you can perform at the highest level and get to the top by being yourselves and not trying to be somebody else, or a different team," he continued.
Morgan confirmed that England would be picking from a full squad in the final, with Jonny Bairstow good to go despite a moment of concern in the semi-final success over Australia.
And the skipper also played down fears about the green nature of the wicket, although he expects a relatively low-scoring final.
“I think in general throughout the tournament the scores have been a lot lower than they have previously (in England) in the last three or four years. Adjusting to that has been harder work than it normally is. New Zealand have done it brilliantly and Lord's isn't ever a high-scoring ground so I'd say it will be a bit of a battle," he said.
Here is the full transcript of Eoin Morgan's pre-match conference which was published on ICC Media:
Q. Can you sum up what this game means to you and to English cricket?
Morgan: Yeah, it means a huge amount to me and everybody in the changing room. It's a culmination of four years of hard work, dedication, a lot of planning and it presents a huge opportunity to go on and try and win a World Cup.
I think for everybody around the country, the support we've had throughout has been unquestionable and that's -- as a team, that is, you know, it makes you feel extremely lucky to be part of a team that has that sort of support.
I think it presents another opportunity for both teams and the ICC to sell the game on a huge platform, two very strong sides, hopefully produce a really good game of cricket. It's on terrestrial television around the country and obviously various outlets online. It presents a huge opportunity for us to sell this great game.
Q. How do you feel personally today? It is a familiar venue but very different circumstances. How do you ensure that that doesn't distract and you maintain positive?
Morgan: I think -- well, I certainly feel pretty relaxed. It is nice to be home. I'm also very excited about tomorrow.
We're going to enjoy the game regardless. We're going to try and take in as much as we can, it's a World Cup Final, and we're not going to shy away from that. As long as anything doesn't affect performance, we're going to try and take it in.
Q. You mentioned that national excitement. Has it manifested itself in any way in the last couple of days since you have made the final?
Morgan: Not really. I think just a general level of excitement, messages you get through, people you meet on the street. Yeah it's pretty cool (smiling).
Q. What would be your final words to the players tomorrow before you step out?
Morgan: I always get asked this before games. You never know what you are going to say until the morning of the game. You have to go in and see what the mood is like in the camp. If it's down, you need to pick it up. If it is too high, you need to bring it down. The majority of the times, over the last three or four games, it's been right on point, I haven't had a lot to do.
Q. Is everyone fit? Is Jonny Bairstow fit?
Morgan: Yeah, everybody is fit, so that's good news.
Q. Do you think you can play as well again as you did against Australia and secondly, do you think you will need to?
Morgan: I think we will need to, yeah. New Zealand are an extremely tough side, with a lot of experience, a lot of skill. They were the best side in the group stage and they improved, very similar to us, from the group stage to the semifinal performance. So we are striving to improve on our performance. No doubt they will.
Q. You have been playing knockout cricket since the game against India, has that helped you hone your approach and mindset going into tomorrow's game?
Morgan: I think it has helped us because it's lend itself to actually being more positive and aggressive and a bit smarter about how we play and it's sort of been the last-chance saloon since Durham, which has been nice in a way.
Q. There was a nice little reunion out there just then with you and Brendon. What did you have a chat about? Is there a kind of nice symmetry I guess in the fact that it is you and New Zealand, after they were so influential in this whole rejuvenation?
Morgan: Yeah, we just caught up outside. Brendon is a very good friend of mine. He spoke about us making the final and playing New Zealand because he had to fly home for the semifinal, but he was flying back if New Zealand made it, so he's delighted that they did and yeah, he's in good form.
Q. What are the weaknesses in Kane Williamson's game?
Morgan: His backing up, I think (smiling).
Q. I was going to ask about you Brendon McCullum as well. How much integral has he been in this team's renaissance since the last World Cup?
Morgan: I think he has had quite a bit to do with it. You could say about world cricket. We are close mates and he's taught me a lot about leadership and I think in 2015 the way that New Zealand played, very similar to the way they are playing at the moment. They proved to everybody that you can perform at the highest level and get to the top by being yourselves and not trying to be somebody else, or a different team, or be somebody that is a bit of a novelty for everybody else, so that's quite cool.
Q. You have only used 13 players in the tournament, so that's two players who haven't played, another one or two players who didn't make the squad who have played a big role, your family and friends have helped. Tell us a bit about -- there are only going to be 11 people on the park tomorrow, but you are doing it for a lot of different people?
Morgan: Absolutely. I think people up-and-down the country as well. I think the two guys that haven't played a part have been brilliant for us. We always talk about the squad. We never talk about the final 11. The final 11 is extremely difficult to get into. So having that responsibility of going out and doing what you do is more important.
So what it means to friends and family is unbelievable. We had a lot of friends and family in the changing room after the semifinal because they are as important to our success as it is to us and everybody around the country, so it is important to share it.
Q. It looks pretty green out there, surprisingly green. You know the conditions well. Do you have any thoughts on that? Is it a bowl first wicket?
Morgan: From afar, it looks greener than it is. There isn't a lot of grass on the wicket. So it probably exaggerates how it will look. I think it will look different -- if the sun comes out for a few hours, it will look different in a few hours, it'll go whiter and burn it off.
Q. Bowl first?
Morgan: Depends on how hard the wicket gets.
Q. A World Cup Final for a cricket match doesn't get much bigger than this. Have you allowed yourselves to imagine lifting that trophy tomorrow and if it's an England win, what does that mean for the game of cricket in this country?
Morgan: I haven't allowed myself to think about lifting the trophy. Cricket and sport in particular is very fickle. If you ever get ahead, it always seems to bite you in the backside, so for us to win it, I think around the country it would be awesome, great for the game.
I think quite iconic in certainly young kids' memory if they are watching it at home and we manage to lift the trophy, it would be awesome.
Q. We are seeing what Jofra Archer brings on the field of play. Tell us a bit about what he is like off the field of play and secondly, with the game tomorrow being on free-to-air television, tell us a bit more how important you think it is the governors that run the game capitalise on what is sure to be a huge viewing audience tomorrow?
Morgan: Yeah, Jofra's a pretty relaxed guy, very cool. Probably not the coolest in the changing room. Chris Woakes has that mantra. But yeah he is a very relaxed guy. He enjoys doing not a lot, relaxing, enjoys playing a lot of Xbox. He's a young guy. He is enjoying his cricket.
I think it is important, regardless of if it's terrestrial or what outlet, that whoever the target audience is and certainly for us or the ICC it should be young kids, if that is online, doing it online, getting hopefully more exposure to the players and more insight into what cricket is about and what principles and, I suppose, disciplines it brings to young people being involved in it.
Q. You have spoken a lot about how your team has changed over the last four years and modelling yourself off Brendon and that sort of stuff. How do you think the Black Caps team have changed in that time and how have they changed from Brendon's captaincy to Kane's captaincy?
Morgan: I think the two boys have two different styles of captaincy. I think that's important for any leader. I think if they are trying to be somebody else it's never going to work. You have to be yourself otherwise the messages that you give to your team, or anything you try and do isn't authentic and people spot that straightaway.
I think the progress that they have made or continue strides that they have made they have just been on top of their game since, extremely experienced players who have continually challenged the best in the world and had success doing it.
Q. New Zealand, apart from Afghanistan, are the only side that haven't scored 300 in this tournament, but they are also the side that have defended a lot of 240s, 280s. How do you look at this particular equation between bat and ball about what your opponents are doing?
Morgan: I think in general throughout the tournament the scores have been a lot lower than they have previously here in the last three or four years. Us adjusting to that has been harder work than it normally is.
New Zealand have done it brilliantly and Lord's isn't ever a high-scoring ground so I'd say tomorrow isn't going to be a high-scoring ground so it will be a bit of a battle.
Q. You say it will be a bit of a battle. What impresses you most about New Zealand and where do you see the game being won and lost tomorrow?
Morgan: It's difficult to say because they are such a stable side. They offer threats throughout with the ball and they're just a stable side with the bat. I think there will be times throughout the game tomorrow where it could be won or lost, but I think it will be a really good game of cricket.