Eoin Morgan has dismissed controversy over tweets sent by him and Jos Buttler in 2017 and 2018 that appeared to mock common Indian use of English, insisting the problem is people “taking [them] out of context”.
The England and Wales Cricket Board is reportedly investigating the tweets, which notably overused the word “sir” for comedic effect. Asked how he has reflected on his own contribution to the issue of insensitive historical social media posts – after Ollie Robinson’s Test debut this month was overshadowed by the rediscovery of several problematic messages from nearly a decade ago – Morgan said: “I don’t really reflect on it a lot.
“If I call somebody ‘sir’ on social media, or anywhere around the world, it’s a sign of admiration and respect. If that’s taken out of context there’s nothing I can control or do about it. So I haven’t actually looked into it.”
England’s white-ball captain has spoken strongly in support of anti-racism campaigns and previously said his team draw strength from their “diverse backgrounds and cultures”. He said last year: “There’s no place for racism in society. When people talk about it they should feel comfortable in talking about it, and we want everybody to know that.”
Morgan is preparing to lead his side into a six-game series against Sri Lanka, split evenly between 20- and 50-over games, which starts with back-to-back Twenty20 matches in Cardiff on Wednesday and Thursday. It will feature one small forward step in the fight against discrimination, with Sue Redfern becoming the first woman to officiate in an England men’s home international after her appointment as fourth umpire for the opening game.
With the T20 World Cup still scheduled to be played in India in October and November, England have picked a strong squad for the first three games. They will be without the injured Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes but, with the early abandonment of the Indian Premier League, have included the players whose involvement in that competition ruled them out of the recent Test series against New Zealand.
“I think eight months ago we didn’t foresee having this squad available in this manner, and as the white-ball summer progresses we probably won’t have it available for very long,” Morgan said. “We distinguish between white ball and red ball – both sides are planning towards big events: ours is the T20 World Cup and theirs are the India Test matches [starting in August] and the Ashes.
“You’ll see full-strength squads selected for them and they take priority given the schedule and how busy it is. We play more international cricket than any other team in the world and we can’t play players until they fall over. We want guys to be focusing on getting into form and rhythm for specific series and if all continues to go to plan we should have that.”
England’s squad for the T20 matches includes the all-rounders Chris Woakes, for the first time since 2015, and David Willey, who last played in 2019. Morgan promised them and other fringe players that “the next four weeks will be a serious and genuine look at things, potentially with World Cup selection down the line”.
Two players not in England’s current squad who may still be in World Cup contention are Joe Root, whose commitments as England’s Test captain have kept him out of the shortest form of the game since May 2019, and Alex Hales, who has been frozen out of the international side since a failed drug test the previous month but has continued to play successfully for a variety of global franchises.
“Joe is keen to get back involved when he can,” Morgan said of Root. “We know the demands on his schedule but there’s no way we’re ruling him out.”
Hales meanwhile was described as “a very fine player”, though Morgan added that “the longer you spend out of the side the further away you get from the position you once had” and that issues of trust will remain until conversations are scheduled “between Alex, myself and the coach, and potentially a few of the players”.