When our exclusive email interview with Middlesex and Ireland batsman Eoin Morgan arrived in our inbox late on Friday we were sorely tempted to post it there and then given Ireland's spectacular tie with Zimbabwe the previous day, but we reluctantly decided to hang on to it until regular posting resumed on Monday morning. In the wake of Ireland's frankly earth shattering demolition of former world champions Pakistan on Saturday night, possibly the biggest upset in international cricket history, we could contain ourselves no longer. Bear in mind that the interview was conducted on the eve of the Zimbabwe match so there are no questions about what's happened in the tournament so far. Given that Ireland are almost certain to be staying out in the Caribbean for the Super 8 phase over the next month we're definitely hoping that Eoin finds a few more minutes between games to update us on how he's getting along.
Welcome to Londonist, Eoin! It's been a very busy start to the year for you with Ireland, firstly in Africa, then the Middle East and now and in the Caribbean. How have you coped with life on tour?
Being away from home for long periods of time is part and parcel of a cricketer’s life. Of course hotel rooms aren’t the best of places at times, but we’re lucky in that most of the places we stay are top class and the food and accommodation are of a high standard. Usually there’s not much free time, but this year in South Africa, we had a few days off and were able to go on safari, which was truly spectacular. We’ve been this year so far to South Africa, Kenya, the UAE, Trinidad and Jamaica. Obviously the climate has been a lot warmer than you’d get in the UK from January to March!
How are you approaching performing for your country on the biggest stage?
The World Cup is a culmination of 18 months of meticulous preparation for us. Although I earn my living as a full time cricketer with Middlesex, the majority of the Irish team are part-timers, with teachers, a postman, a storeman, an electrician, a farmer and a civil servant to name but a few. To be fair to the Irish Cricket Union, with the support of our major sponsor, Bank of Ireland, and the two Irish Sports Councils, the funding has been found for the team to be full time for the past 3 months. We’ve been to the High Performance Centre in South Africa for 3 weeks, played in the World League in Kenya, and also reached the final of the Intercontinental Cup which will be played at the end of May.
Now that we’re in the Caribbean, the dream has finally become a reality. Playing the world’s number one team, South Africa, and reducing them to 91 for 8 was a superb performance. Although we lost, to be competitive against a line up which included Graeme Smith, Shaun Pollock, Herschelle Gibbs and so on, was an indication of the potential of this Irish side. It was a very timely performance because there has been a lot of criticism from former Test players, saying we have no place in this World Cup. Hopefully that will silence them for a while.
You must feel that your opening match against Zimbabwe in particular offers a genuine chance to get Irish cricket noticed on a worldwide scale?
Our game against Zimbabwe affords us our best chance of registering a win. They have gone through a lot of upheaval due to the political crisis in the country, but they are still a major force, and we will start as outsiders. I’ve no doubt we’d win batting second, but if we bat first, with early morning overhead conditions, and the white ball, teams can be out of the game at 40-4 early on. Our strength is our batting, and we have great depth in that department, so I fancy us to post over 200 in our games, whether batting first or second.
Is there any team or player in the tournament you're especially looking forward to playing against?
We’ll be coming up versus some of the all-time greats over the next 2 weeks. Brian Lara and Inzaman-ul-Haq to name but two, while personally, as a batsman, I’m relishing the opportunity to pit my wits against Jerome Taylor, Dwayne Bravo, Rana Naved and Danish Kaneria.
Which two teams do you think will contest the final?
There’s a lot of strong teams in the Cup, but I feel Australia will be the team to beat, with India being my next tip.
Middlesex's home ground is of course the headquarters of world cricket. Is playing at Lord's how you imagined it would be?
I’m very honoured to play my cricket at Lord’s which is every cricketers ambition. It’s the finest stadium in the world, steeped in tradition, and I get to play there on a regular basis – what could be better?
What influence has Middlesex team-mate and fellow Dubliner Ed Joyce had on your career so far?
Having Ed also at Middlesex has worked out well. He’s helped me greatly in my career, and is always willing to give advice. The Irish public has nothing but admiration for Ed, and are fully supportive of his decision to opt to play for England. The media back home give him super coverage, and hope he gets to play Test cricket.
You've already had a lot of success in the game at a young age. How far ahead are you looking in your career?
I’ve made no secret of my ambition to play for England, as everyone wants to be the best in their profession, and play at the top level. Ireland haven’t been granted Test status yet, although who knows in the future, if the ICC opt for expansion in that area.
How are you enjoying living and working in London?
London is a wonderful, vibrant city, with always plenty of options for entertainment. I’m a big music and movie fan, so it’s ideal from my perspective. The traffic, and busy pace of life are the downsides. I’m used to a more sedate pace of life back in Ireland. I’ve plenty of friends over here, and am enjoying life at Middlesex.
Picture via jaroslavd's Flickr stream.