May 23, 2011

Sri Lanka in England, 2011

England go for consistency of selection

Akhila Ranganna

England's selectors chose to go with Eoin Morgan over Ravi Bopara for the first Test against Sri Lanka, and Jonathan Agnew writing on BBC Sport says that while Bopara's bowling might have offered Andrew Strauss an option for a few overs here and there, most will agree that if Morgan can now cement his place with some big scores, his innovative and busy style of batting would be invaluable to England's middle order.

Bopara is a lovely natural player and turned down the IPL to focus on pressing his Test claims. The England camp does not actively encourage its players to take part in the IPL circus, but having granted Morgan permission to play by issuing him a 'no objection certificate', they could hardly penalise him for doing so - particularly after scoring a big hundred against the tourists.

It was consistency of selection that won the day for Eoin Morgan and Steve Finn, who have been selected in England's squad for the first Test against Sri Lanka, writes Mike Selvey in the Guardian.

But there is no question that in terms of finding a potential long-term Test-match batsman, for which temperament is an important factor, the selectors have chosen the right man. As a result of his grounding in one-day cricket Morgan still has technical deficiencies that are unsuited to the longer forms of the game, particularly outside off stump, and these are areas that are sure to be exploited by Sri Lanka. But he has well-earned the soubriquet "Iceman" and the prospect of his coming in at No6 and batting as he did in Derby is a mouthwatering one – he may prove as much a game-maker as Collingwood was a game-saver.

England chose expediency ahead of loyalty yesterday writes Stephen Brenkley in the Independent and it demonstrated that their prime motivation must always be to pick the team to win the match and that all other considerations are excluded.

Morgan not only decided that the IPL was better for him (and certainly more lucrative) than the County Championship but had also casually confirmed that were he not picked for the first Test against Sri Lanka he would return to play for the Knight Riders.

The selectors insist they are happy enough with Morgan's commitment to England's Test cause but Miller will have a word with him to establish his priorities. Bopara was bitterly disappointed when the news of his omission was broken on Saturday evening. He will feel that his commitment has been discarded, though his decision was probably eased by the fact that staying in England meant he was around for the birth of his first child a month ago.

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Akhila Ranganna is assistant editor (Audio) at ESPNcricinfo

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