England put on a show of unity ahead of T20 World Cup semi-final against New Zealand

Captain Morgan says team has talked about racism scandal back home and wants to be a part of solution

Eoin Morgan says his England side have discussed county cricket’s racism controversy even though their focus has been on winning the T20 World Cup in the UAE.

England will face New Zealand in the semi-final at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

While they were stringing together an impressive run of performances in the group stage last week, a racism scandal was engulfing the game back at home.

Even senior members of the UK government were moved to comment on the case of racial harassment and bullying against Azeem Rafiq at Yorkshire.

Far from being a distraction for the national team, Morgan said his side have talked about the issue as they want to be part of the solution.

“We definitely don’t shelter [from discussing it], particularly from issues as serious as and relevant to our squad, as [serious as] anything we have ever done,” Morgan, the England captain, said.

“When matters of such a serious nature arise, particularly when it comes to discrimination, we talk about it quite a lot.

“Bear in mind that within our group there is a lot of diversity. We try and share our stories as much as we can.”

After England’s multicultural team won the 50-over World Cup in 2019, Morgan had said the side’s diversity was one of their great strengths.

“After winning the 2019 World Cup and becoming a more formidable side with a bigger platform, that has allowed us to feel comfortable enough to continue to tell our different stories along the road,” Morgan said, on the eve of the game against New Zealand.

“Ultimately [it is about] feeling comfortable in our own skin to play great cricket on the field, but also to be a really strong role model.

“Throughout what has happened at Yorkshire we have continued to chat about things, and how it might affect future generations.”

He hopes their success can be an inspiration for aspiring cricketers from any background.

“We feel comfortable talking about this within the dressing room,” Morgan said.

“We think of ourselves as younger cricketers, coming from different backgrounds. We all want to share our dream, which we have dreamt about for so long as kids.

“We have been lucky enough to live that dream, and we want young kids to be able to picture that, but also to picture a pathway to be able to achieve it.

“The things we do in this World Cup and beyond are very important to contributing to that.”

Ahead of the game against the Black Caps, Morgan has also had selection issues forced upon him.

Jason Roy was ruled out of the remainder of the tournament on Monday. The opener, who has long been a key part of England’s XI, suffered a calf injury while attempting a single against South Africa on Sunday.

His absence will likely demand a reshuffle of England’s batting order. James Vince has been brought into the squad as his replacement.

Sam Billings had been the reserve batter in the squad until that point, while England might also consider bringing in an extra bowler, such as David Willey, to their side.

Morgan said England have already settled on the change they are going to make, although it might be amended dependant on the pitch conditions in the capital.

He also pointed out that his side are used to dealing with availability problems. Before this World Cup, they were already without Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Sam Curran, while Tymal Mills and Roy both suffered injuries during the competition.

“If you look right from the very beginning of our selection process leading into the World Cup, we have had a number of big name players missing from our squad,” Morgan said.

“That has continued both pre-tournament with Sam Curran, and in the tournament with Jason Roy and Tymal Mills.

“Of all the things we have done well, I think the strongest point has been the resilience within our squad to be able to find a way to move forward and forge on.”

Updated: November 9th 2021, 2:50 PM
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