Eoin 'Morgs' pale-faced as Virat Kohli bounces Jofra challenge
26 May 2019 - 00:00
Rarely has a couch been shared as gingerly as the one Eoin Morgan and Virat Kohli were made to sit on this week.
Eye contact was restricted to the kind of non-looks exchanged between people about to venture down dark alleys and those emerging from them.
Were they on a frigid first date? Or outside the principal's office? Or within sight of a head-to-head clash between the top two teams in the one-day game - who many have tipped to line up at Lord's for the World Cup final on July 14?
"I don't think anyone is head and shoulders above anyone else; these are the 10 best teams in the world," Morgan said at the World Cup captains' press conference in London on Thursday.
But two of those teams should be better than others considering the disproportionate opportunities they and their predecessors have had.
Of the 4,142 ODIs yet played, England or India - or both - have featured in 1,698. That's an outrageous 40.99% by only two of a total of 28 teams. If England and India don't make the final, what could have gone so very wrong?
In England's case, too much fuss and bother about whether to select Barbados-born and raised Jofra Archer, a fast bowler their suits considered good enough for them to rewrite the rules on how long it takes to fake being English all the way into the national team. Before Archer, that was seven years. Now it's three.
Archer was duly picked, and promptly said something utterly un-English: "I'd quite like to get Virat out. I wasn't able to do that at the Indian Premier League (IPL)."
Morgan seemed to shrink further into his corner of the couch with dread when the issue was raised, but Kohli's eyes shone with urgent interest: "Did he say that?"
He looked to Morgan for confirmation. Morgan shrugged. Or was that a shiver at what he might have considered a gross invasion of his personal space?
"That's news to me," Kohli continued. "News to 'Morgs' as well."
'Morgs'? 'Morgs'! Who did the nasty little Third World oik, a bounder from the colonies, blast it, think he bloody was?
Kohli, a person for every world, has long since crossed that bridge and burnt it.
"I don't really focus on these things," he said. "If Jofra said that, it's a big compliment as he is a world-class bowler, and there's a good reason why he's been fast-tracked into playing for England at the World Cup.
"I've seen him the last couple of years at the IPL ... It's going to be really exciting to see him at the World Cup. He has the X-factor, he has good pace, he can be intimidating, he's a great athlete. I'm sure the England team is excited to have him."
"Morgs" blanched to a whiter shade of pale as Kohli clicked enthusiastically through the gears of his hyperbole. How did India's players avoid being suffocated by the sheer size of their captain's presence?
He is a fine leader and a wonderful player. But is there space for anyone else in any dressing room he graces?
Jasprit Bumrah, perhaps. Although you would be forgiven for wondering whether India had arrived at the World Cup expecting Kohli to score all the runs, take all the catches and effect all the runouts.
England play India at Edgbaston on June 30, when the earth will surely move.
It will be the 100th ODI between the sides, and a contest for the ages, no doubt.
Until the final, at least...