May 24, 2010

Mike Holmans

Bevan or Vaughan

Mike Holmans

Will Eoin Morgan's methods work in the longest version? © Getty Images

The headlines said that Paul Collingwood and Stuart Broad are being “rested” from England's first Test against Bangladesh later this week. True enough, if they aren't in the squad, they won't be playing, but it's a funny old defintion of “rest” which means that Broad will be pumping iron pretty intensively in the gym to build his strength up while Collingwood does rehab on his shoulder. The basic message is that 90% fit is not fit enough: they would rather have eleven fully-fit players than the eleven theoretically-best with a couple of them unable to perform to their maximum.

It takes a bit of getting used to, but it is the logical result of year-round international cricket. The old-timers would have raised a stink rather than an eyebrow at “resting” a first-choice player from a home Test, but in their day a player who was getting jaded would take the winter off to get recharged after too much cricket: the only tour it was impermissible to sit out voluntarily was an Ashes. (Well, you could sit it out if you chose, but it would put a big blackmark in the selectors' notebooks.)

The immediate consequence is that Eoin Morgan is set to make his England debut in the long form of the game, which will be fascinating.

Since I tipped him for success a year ago, Morgan has amply demonstrated that he is one of the most exciting limited-over players in the world, but picking him for Tests represents quite a leap of faith by the selectors.

Morgan's first-class record is pretty modest. His career amounts to 2500 runs at 36, including 6 centuries, one of them a not-out double. Not exactly screaming for Test selection. Nor has he been distinguishing himself in the first half of this year's championship: what with the ODIs against Australia, the IPL and the World Twenty20, he last played a first-class match last August, when he scored 16 and 17 against the might of Glamorgan.

And it's a well-known fact that there are players who are geniuses against a white ball but rather less than overwhelming when it comes to Tests. Michael Bevan was known as the greatest finisher of them all in ODIs – and left-handed rocket power at the end of an innings is also what Morgan is good at – but he never established himself as a Test player. Despite having played the format for seven years, Yuvraj Singh has yet to really convince as a Test player while being one of the game's most dangerous one-day batsmen.

England will be hoping that he does not follow in their footsteps but instead treads the path marked out by Michael Vaughan, who had a similarly uninspiring first-class record when picked for England but blossomed into (briefly) the number one ranked Test batsman in the world.

Morgan could not be much further from Vaughan in terms of style. Vaughan was perhaps England's most classical batsman since Peter May while Morgan's range of shots has yet to be fully documented by researchers into new species. But what both of them have is extraordinary phlegm: one of Morgan's more impressive traits is his obvious calm at the crease whatever the situation – a coolness which Vaughan was required to show on his Test debut, finding himself standing there with the responsibility of digging England out of the hole of being 2-4.

It has to be said that it will be a major surprise if Morgan faces anything similar when he walks out to bat against Bangladesh. Nor is he all that likely to have to do the job with which Collingwood, whom he nominally replaces, has become most associated - that of remaining strokeless for hours trying to stave off almost inevitable defeat.

The suspicion is that if the scoreboard isn't clicking up the runs at a regular rate, Morgan will become frustrated and start playing silly shots and get out. With Morgan, of course, one has to be quite careful when describing a shot as “silly” because what is unconventional and unorthodox for a Vaughanesque batsman may be one of Morgan's most well-practiced strokes – but that probably won't stop people labelling a safe-looking backward flip which is impossibly caught by a salmon-leaping fielder as irresponsible.

Whether Morgan is a Bevan or a Vaughan is the question the selectors are appointed to estimate the answer to. And it can only be their best estimate: the beauty of this sport is that none of us, not even Morgan himself, can possibly know how he will fare until he goes out and tries.

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Posted by waterbuffalo on (June 11, 2010, 7:57 GMT)

I saw bevan's last test inngs at the MCG, he plodded to 35 in two hours or so, steve waugh was so angry he dropped him, Michael Vaughan is a first rate batsman, scoring two or three centuries in australia, and blasting them in England, the comparison of Bevan to Vaughan is absurd, Bevan batted at 6 for the one day side, Vaughan batted at 3 for the Test side, and he was also a superb captain, absolutely magnificent. As a former captain myself, I know when somebody is special, the field placings he created, unbelievable, and aesthetically, he was a beautiful batsman to watch, unlike Bevan who was as ugly as a crab.

Posted by Damith on (May 30, 2010, 8:40 GMT)

Why not/He's a marvellous player.He can adopt to any situation

Posted by Ruester on (May 30, 2010, 5:56 GMT)

Im not a Collingwood fan, I would love to see a more exciting batsman for England....but he does an amazing job with the talent he has got. Beven was an amazing player and I witnessed some gutsy, match winning performances from him seemingly everytime Australia was in a hole. Bevan does not have a first class record that can compare to the likes of Hick and Ramprakash, the most prolific first class performers for a fifteen year period at least. Neither made it for England, bad management? not enough chances? poor selection policy? who knows why those players did not perform. Just think if they had we would not of been Aussies whipping boys for that whole period of time. Bevan was the same....there just happend to be better players with stronger temprements in a golden age of Australian cricket.

Posted by Arun on (May 30, 2010, 3:51 GMT)

I fail to understand why Michael Vaughan is given such hype by the Britishers. True, he helped England win the Ashes. But, don't we know who the real hero of 2005 is? Yes, he was briefly ranked number one. That was just one purple patch in all his career. I personally feel that he is a very ordinary batsman. As far as the comparison to Bevan is concerned, I think it is too much too early. I wouldn't want to make comparisons to the greats of the game (ODI game) as it would make Eoin Morgan another Ajantha Mendis, Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma or a JP Duminy who were hailed as the next Muralitharan, Javagal Srinath, Sachin Tendulkar and Gary Kirsten. We should allow the player to set targets for himself rather than others setting them for him.

Posted by Sisyphus on (May 29, 2010, 14:18 GMT)

Reading this article, I couldn't help thinking of Neil Fairbrother...

Posted by Bevan Perera on (May 28, 2010, 19:47 GMT)

Morgan will be a stubborn cricketer like many others who exceeded their cricketing talent with superior control of emotions(Temperament) like (no comparison at all of any player vs player) Steve Waugh, Thilan Samaraweera, Collingwood, Vettori ,Chanderpaul to name a few. As for Bevan, I feel he could not fight the hype that was created by the media in his own mind about playing the short ball. Otherwise having played shield cricket it should have been a mere formality. Cricket is all but a mind game. Bevan in a benchmark in ODI.

Posted by puz on (May 28, 2010, 13:03 GMT)

Since Graham Thorpe left, we haven't had anyone at no.5 who can grind it out in difficult situations but also have that extra bit of class and reliability (i.e more than Collingwood, Bell). I hope Morgan becomes that player, we've been short of a world class lower middle order player since Thorpe left.

Posted by graeme on (May 28, 2010, 11:46 GMT)

The comparison to Bevan is absurd. He was a superb with an incredible 1st class average-57!- in the hardest 1st class competition in the world. the Sheffield Shield in Australia, not the soft county system. His one day record also stands out especially as he came in at number 6 most of his career when the easy and best batting positions are at 1-3.

His test record is modest but so are may other players at certain times in their careers. Some are given loads of time and tests to prove themselves, Mark Taylor(who can forget his lean trot!) and Steve Waugh for instance. Waugh is considered the 'hard' man of Australian cricket but in his first 29! tests(as opposed to Bevan's 18) he averaged just 30 with the bat(bevan-29) without a century! He went on and scored over 30 test centuries and averaged over 50, what if Bevan had been given the same chances....

Posted by Jeff on (May 27, 2010, 18:38 GMT)

There have been a number of England players over the past 10 years that have had modest 1st class records when compared to their test records. As well as Vaughan (ave 41 tests, 35 in other 1st class cricket) there was Trescothick (44 in tests, 39 in other 1st class) and even Strauss outperforms in tests (43 vs 41)

What does this say?

Either the England selectors are brilliant at spotting players with the right skills/temprament for tests or that county cricket is harder than test cricket !!!!

Let's hope Morgan follows these other players.

Posted by corporal on (May 27, 2010, 16:05 GMT)

Good post Bevan fan, Bevan really blossumed in his later years but didn't have a chance of breaking into an all powerful Australin batting lineup by that stage. Look at the success's of Katich coming back into the side in his 30's, I'm sure Bevan would have emulated this given the chance. The same as probably Hodge, Love, Rogers and the host of other great domestic aussie batsmen who were kept out during the golden years.

Collingwood is a tough gritty player however Bevan was a far more talented batsman he just bloomed in the wrong era.

Regarding Eon Morgan, talented OD player but a bit of a technique concern if you are only averaging 36 in County (granted he has had limited chances to play FC recently). Won't be unhappy if he is in the side when Australia unleash Johnson, Bollinger, Harris & co during the ashes!.

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