Wednesday 19 June 2019 7:50 pm

Chris Tremlett: Eoin Morgan's Afghanistan blitz showed England captain's leadership skills as well as power

Eoin Morgan has always been someone who cashes in when he gets on a roll, but even for him the World Cup performance against Afghanistan yesterday was special.

As captain of the one-day side Morgan has tried to make England as dominant as possible and his innings of 148 from 77 balls, with an ODI record 17 sixes, was him leading from the front.

The fact he had suffered a back spasm four days beforehand just shows his character. When I toured with him for the 2011 Ashes in Australia and the World Cup in the subcontinent he was more of a Jack the Lad type, but now he’s married, settled down and has really blossomed as a captain.

Read more: Morgan makes a mockery of bad back in eye-popping century

He’s very professional. England were always expected to beat Afghanistan, but they have lost to Holland and Ireland at tournaments before and Morgan didn’t want to take the easy option and sit the game out.

Instead he embraced the adrenaline and produced a remarkable knock to remind us all just what he’s capable of.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JUNE 18: Eoin Morgan of England celebrates his century with Joe Root of England during the Group Stage match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 between England and Afghanistan at Old Trafford on June 18, 2019 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Morgan struck an ODI record of 17 sixes in his 148 from 77 balls

Morgan is a brilliant player of spin. He was one of the first to adopt the reverse-sweep years ago, but we didn’t see much of it at Old Trafford – just conventional power down the ground. 

Once he was in the mood he took full advantage of it and that will give him a lot of confidence for the rest of the tournament.

Joy to watch

Next up it’s Sri Lanka at Headingley on Friday and I can only see one result. England are full of confidence and simply a much better side than their opponents, who so far have only picked up one win, against bottom team Afghanistan.

I haven’t been impressed by Sri Lanka’s bowling which looks average at best. Lasith Malinga is 35 now and doesn’t bowl with the same pace and won’t be feared by this England top order.

Whether they have to bat first or second I’m confident England will score enough runs to seal the deal, while their pace attack has been a joy to watch of late.

Jofra Archer has taken 12 wickets and Mark Wood nine with some hostile and accurate bowling. They both seem to be really enjoying it – especially the aspect of scaring the opposition. Sri Lanka’s batsmen are yet to fire and are likely to be on the receiving end of a barrage in Leeds.

England's Jofra Archer (R) celebrates taking the wicket of Afghanistan's Rashid Khan during the 2019 Cricket World Cup group stage match between England and Afghanistan at Old Trafford in Manchester, northwest England, on June 18, 2019. (Photo by Dibyangshu SARKAR / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE        (Photo credit should read DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Jofra Archer has taken 12 wickets for 217 runs in five matches so far

England can cement a place in the semi-finals with a fifth win from six matches, which will allow them to, if not completely take their foot off the gas, then go at 80 per cent for the remaining three games.

Although we’re over the halfway point in the group stages and the top four of England, Australia, New Zealand and India are pulling away from the rest, I don’t have a problem with the format.

With all 10 teams in one group it’s fair. It rewards consistency, allows the best teams to rise to the top and ensures the unfortunate rained off games aren’t as telling. 

It’s true that we haven’t had a real shock result yet, but I’m sure the semi-finals will provide plenty of memorable moments.