England skipper Eoin Morgan believes that Jonny Bairstow has every right to express his opinion as much as the critics, who can pan the team when they are not playing well. Morgan had an eventful press meet on the eve of their do-or-die game against India here Sunday in which he presented a dead bat to questions on his future as leader if England happen to get ousted. When asked about Bairstow’s comments (without naming Michael Vaughan and Kevin Pietersen) that “critics want the team to lose”, Morgan first feigned ignorance. So are you disappointed with the remark? “What remark?” he countered.

When specifically told about Bairstow’s remark, Morgan said: “No. He’s entitled to his opinion, like critics are. That’s the way he feels.” At the same time, having lost three games, the England skipper didn’t rubbish the criticism altogether including a social media dig by former skipper Pietersen, who felt that Morgan was “scared” while facing Mitchell Starc. “I think critics are there to be critical. We haven’t performed well, so they are going to be critical. They’re entitled to their own opinion,” said Morgan, trying to balance it out. He is happy with the kind of support they have got from fans, even though he knows that Sunday could be an “away game” for the hosts with 95 percent stands being filled by the Indian fans.

“I think the support that we’ve had from our fans and everybody around the country has been unbelievable. It has been outstanding. There’s been an enormous amount of good faith and goodwill going around,” he added. The England team has batted well on the flat decks and piled up huge scores and Morgan agreed that had been their comfort zone and calling card as far as bilateral series were concerned. The skipper was also protective of his players and despite a below-par effort in the tournament so far, he couldn’t find any fault in their commitment. “No, I can’t fault the commitment or application that the guys have produced in every single game. Where we’ve let ourselves down as a group is adapting to conditions.

“It’s been a bigger challenge in this World Cup than previous bilateral series that we’ve played, so tomorrow is going to be exactly the same.” He didn’t completely toe Bairstow’s line that pitches in World Cup are more suited to sub-continental teams but did admit that it has been a problem. “As regards to conditions, they are what they are. We can’t control them. It’s not a talking point for us. It’s a matter of us being better at adapting to conditions.” During the final few minutes, the British media grilled Morgan intensely but the England captain managed to keep his counsel.

Asked if this is the biggest match in his captaincy, he replied: “No, I don’t think so. I think some of the most important ones that I’ve had to date, semi-final of the Champions Trophy (2017). That was quite significant. “If we hadn’t learned from that and progressed on wickets that had been more challenging, I probably wouldn’t have still been captain.” But when it came to his future as skipper, the answers were in monosyllables. Will the result of World Cup impact your or affect your decision to stay as captain, and his curt reply was a “No”.

So are you going anyway or staying anyway? “Going where?” he threw a counter-question. The reporter was persistent as ever. “I mean, have you — probably not top of your list of thoughts,” the reporter tried asking once more, but what he got was impregnable defence from a flamboyant batsman. “It’s not something I want to talk about. It’s not about me. It’s about the team,” said Morgan. There was desperate final attempt though. Does that mean you made a decision but you want to keep it to yourself? “No. There’s no talking point around this. It’s about tomorrow and the following game,” Morgan said before leaving the room.