Eoin Morgan had no idea if he would ever captain England again after his last World Cup meeting with a Bangladesh side who will once again test his leadership this weekend.
Morgan was a rookie skipper at the 2015 tournament, hastily installed after Sir Alastair Cook’s axeing, and might easily have been sacrificed after a 15-run defeat in Adelaide which eliminated them in the group stage.
For several weeks afterwards he was left in limbo, until a phone call from Andrew Strauss, who charged him with leading the regeneration of the nation’s one-day cricket.
That project has been a success story so far but will be defined over the next few weeks as England hunt their first World Cup trophy.
A surprise defeat by Pakistan made their job more awkward than expected and victory over the Tigers today is essential if the hosts are to reassert themselves on the competition.
On the eve of the match in Cardiff, Morgan reflected on the period of uncertainty that followed England’s exit four years ago.
“I didn’t really know, probably for the next month or so,” he said of his captaincy status. “I didn’t know, I didn’t hear. I don’t think I was the only person in that position. Paul Downton left [as managing director] and other positions were up for grabs or vacant. I was in that position too at the time.
“Strauss phoned me during the IPL. I was delighted. Regardless of who he made captain, I believe it would have been the best person for the job. I was just happy it was me.”
Morgan explained how the pair discussed the need to shift England’s entire approach to limited-overs cricket, a job he undertook with relish, and the team began the current tournament ranked number one in the world.
“He actually instigated it, he said ‘this is what I think we need to do’ and I said I completely agreed,” Morgan recalled.
“The whole down side of that World Cup does have an up side if you can learn from it. Certainly the things I learned, particularly about my own captaincy, the decisions I made or contributed to or the person I was – I wanted to try to rectify them.”
To do so, England must see off a tricky Bangladesh team and hope the poor weather that forced both teams to train indoors yesterday stays away.
Encouraging precedents are there for both sides – the away team searching for a famous hat-trick of World Cup wins to follow 2011 and 2015, while England will be aware they have only lost four of the 20 ODIs between the sides.
Home conditions may be a decisive factor, Bangladesh’s win ratio falling to one in seven on the road, but Morgan is going in with his eyes open.
“It is going to be a difficult game. They are a good side,” he said. “I think people underestimate them but we certainly don’t. They are a threat but hopefully we can play well and overcome it.”
England will assess the conditions before settling their final XI but are leaning towards a recall for seamer Liam Plunkett, with spinner Adil Rashid vulnerable.
Jofra Archer is set to retain his place despite the flattest display of his brief international career against Pakistan, taking nought for 79 and earning a fine for dissent.
“Jofra has very rarely failed but when he does, he is quite chilled,” said Morgan. “After the game the other day he was very relaxed about what happened.
“He is at the point in his career where he is picking up everything very quickly.”