The debate rages about who should replace Trevor Bayliss in charge of England at the end of this summer, but the answer, according to former England great Steve Harmison, is staring the ECB in the face – Eoin Morgan.
It’s a shout coming far out of left-field, considering Morgan is still only 32 and has made no suggestion that retirement is on the horizon.
But there is method to the madness, as Morgan’s calm influence on England’s white-ball side has turned them from laughing stocks to world leaders in four short years.
Bayliss must take some credit for England’s revival in the shorter formats as well, but his skipper Morgan remains the key cog.
“I think Eoin Morgan is a magnificent leader,” said Harmison, speaking from Durham on the latest leg of the ICC Trophy Tour.
“People laugh at me sometimes but when Trevor Bayliss is leaving after the Ashes, I’d give him the job. I’d want Morgan to lead England as coach.
“Joe Root and the players have got so much respect for him that I would have him in the set-up in a leadership role because he’s calm and extreme pressure just doesn’t seem to bother him.
“He’s a bit like Michael Vaughan in that respect, he can make decisions under pressure – clear, calculated decisions that are the right ones.”
Before the Ashes get under way, there is the not-so-small matter of a home World Cup to come and Harmison said: “Eoin’s going to be a big player for England over the course of the tournament.
“There have been peaks and troughs in his batting, but I’ve never thought for one minute that he shouldn’t be in that side because his leadership qualities are so fantastic.”
Host nation England will start as the bookies’ favourites – a far cry from their group stage exit in 2015 which was followed, despite an all-conquering spell of bilateral series, by defeat in the the 2017 Champions Trophy semi-finals by Pakistan.
Can England turn that around this year? Harmison certainly thinks so.
“Ten years ago, I’d have said the pressure would be huge. I don’t think England would have done it ten years ago,” he added. “Now, the amount of pressure games these kids play in the IPL and in the big series – there seems to be a global event every second year – they don’t feel pressure. You just look at the England and the way they play at this moment in time.
“Eoin Morgan is a magnificent leader and the way his team are, they don’t see pressure. They just do their jobs properly and when that happens, nine times out of ten, England have been successful.
“I think there’ll be a little bit of nerves on home soil but I think they’ll channel that and challenge themselves to know that they are going to prove what good favourites they are because talent will get you to a World Cup semi-final, but then you need that little bit of luck or brilliance.
“England have got it, it’s just a case of getting through and channelling all the good qualities they’ve got to make sure when they do get to the pressure situations, they execute what they want to do.
“They’ve got a great chance, but so have India, Australia and South Africa. There are some good teams and great cricketers playing for that World Cup. It’s certainly going to be a magnificent spectacle.
“You’ve always got concerns but you’ve also got to look at the opposition as well. People look at England too much and think there’s a bad performance here or there, but like I said before, there’s nothing you can do if Virat Kohli or Chris Gayle come in and smash 150. You can say that it’s a bad performance but moments of brilliance are going to happen. There’s so many players now that you have to look at the opposition too.
“A year ago, England did have performances which you didn’t see coming when they’ve been really poor but I think this side is getting better and better. Against Pakistan in the Champions Trophy, they didn’t adapt to the wicket quickly enough.
“If that happened now in a semi-final, I think England would adapt to it.
“They’re more mature because they’re playing more cricket under pressure. They’ve all sampled the IPL and that only helps and makes you a better player.”
Attentions will then turn to the Ashes, back on home soil after England’s chastening 4-0 defeat Down Under two winters ago.
It appears likely that this will be James Anderson and Stuart Broad’s last Ashes in front of their own fans, but the future is bright in the seam department, particularly in a small corner of Birmingham.
“There’s always someone that comes along. In the late Nineties and early Noughties, we wondered what we were going to do when Darren Gough and Andrew Caddick finished. Three years later, Harmison, Simon Jones, Andrew Flintoff and Matthew Hoggard rock up,” he added
“Then all of a sudden you’ve got Broad and Anderson. Somebody will come and take up the mantle and, hopefully, take it to the next level. It’ll take some doing, but I’m sure England are working on it right now.
“There’s two young kids I like a lot. They’re different to Broad and Anderson. I like young Henry Brookes at Warwickshire. He got injured last year and missed the back end of the season and the winter, but I think that kid has got something.
“I’m not going to say he’s going to play 100 times for England and take 500 wickets but he’s got something to work with if he’s managed right.
“He’s now being managed by Paul Farbrace who is a fantastic choice and I think he and Olly Stone have got pace.
“If they can stay injury free for the next few years while their bodies develop, England could have unearthed two quality quick bowlers there.”
ICC Cricket World Cup Trophy Tour, driven by Nissan, commences 100-day tour of England and Wales and will be at over 100 locations and events before arriving back in London ready for the opening match on May 30.