Morgan has overseen a dramatic transformation in England’s 50-over tactics and fortunes since his side was knocked out of the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup in the Pool stage – the team rattling up totals of over 350 nine times since then, including 444-3 against Pakistan at Trent Bridge in June 2016.
The 31-year-old insisted there was more to come from his team in the wake of this winter’s 4-1 series win over Australia and a 3-2 series victory over New Zealand followed, a result that has lifted England to top spot in the rankings for the first time since 2013.
Morgan told Sky Sports Cricket that he will continue to encourage his team to play with the same flair and freedom that has helped them overtake India in the standings.
“It’s an acknowledgement of the cricket that we’ve played over the last two or three years,” said Morgan. “One thing for us was the change in the style that we played in previous years and the positive, aggressive nature that we wanted to take to our game – and the learning nature that goes with it, the desire to continually improve.
“The big factor that really did turn it around was that everybody was on the same page. We’d all seen the cricket that we’ve seen in previous World Cups and Champions Trophies and, to a degree, it worked in 2013 when we got to the final of the Champions Trophy but it was never going to win us a World Cup. That was the thing that resonated with me after the 2015 World Cup. We were miles behind the game.
“To make such a significant jump without consequence we had to make drastic changes.
“So selecting a nearly-new team – I think there were five guys in the 2015 World Cup that continued to play that summer – and identifying players who could play the way we thought we could take the game forward was the priority.
“We had to raise the skill level continuously as we went along, creating a positive, aggressive mindset within that is very important while learning as much as we could along the way – being real and honest in our performance.
“This is a nice recognition. It doesn’t mean a great deal; it wasn’t a huge target or something that we wanted to do. But this time next year we knew that we’d have to be within the top three in the world to be serious contenders for the World Cup.”
England – who have never won the 50-over World Cup – learned that they will face third-ranked South Africa in the opening match of the 2019 tournament on home soil when the fixtures were released last week and Morgan says home fans have every reason to feel optimistic about their side’s prospects.
“I think with the cricket that we’ve played you’ve got to get excited. It’s very entertaining, it has given us an identity as a team and that’s given a huge sense of purpose.
“We have created a little bit of expectation which I think is really healthy in the side and hopefully that continues.”
Morgan replaced Alastair Cook as England ODI captain in 2015 and says he continues to grow in the role under head coach Trevor Bayliss after learning the ropes from two former international skippers.
“The first captain that I started to take notes from was Andrew Strauss; he was a guy who made fantastic speeches, was very articulate. He was always trying to make the team better.
“One of my best friends is Brendon McCullum, who has had a big impact on my outlook on cricket; he’s a hugely charismatic guy with a remarkable understanding of the game, which has turned around New Zealand cricket.
“My relationship with TB actually goes back to IPL days, when I was at Kolkata; I found him absolutely brilliant, to the point, no messing around.
“The more I played under him, the more I realised that the little comments that he’d make to try and improve your game or change your mindset took every ounce of perceived pressure away that you’d been building up towards the game. That’s a huge attribute that not every coach has.”
Watch England’s one-day side take on Scotland, Australia and India this summer on Sky Sports Cricket – starting with the clash against Scotland on 10th June.