County news February 7, 2014

Morgan Middlesex limited-overs captain

ESPNcricinfo staff

Eoin Morgan, considered a potential England one-day captain of the future, has been given the chance to hone his leadership skills at Middlesex, where he will take charge of both limited-overs teams in 2014.

Although a combination of IPL and England commitments could limit his involvement in county cricket, Middlesex are confident Morgan's availability will be enough to justify the promotion. He takes over from Neil Dexter, who has now relinquished all captaincy responsibilities after previously handing over the Championship brief to Chris Rogers.

Morgan is in the auction for the IPL, which will take place in Bangalore next week, but will be expected back in England well before the one-off T20 against Sri Lanka on May 20. That should make him available to assume the captaincy when Middlesex begin their NatWest T20 Blast campaign on May 17, with a double-header at Lord's against Essex and Sussex.

The Royal London Cup, the ECB's new 50-over competition, begins in late July with a four-week group stage, although England's ODI series against India could clash with the knockout fixtures, should Middlesex progress. The club hope that Morgan will only miss three limited-overs county fixtures, all due to England demands, although that could change substantially if he were to win a recall to the Test team, as some have advocated.

The ECB's decision to exile Kevin Pietersen may also encourage Morgan, with few of England's middle-order options capable of matching him for skill and impetus with the bat, a modest Test record notwithstanding.

Angus Fraser, Middlesex's director of cricket, said that the decision to appoint Morgan as captain in the short formats was taken some time ago and was keen to emphasis the abilities that have become increasingly attractive for England. Morgan will serve as Stuart Broad's deputy on the West Indies tour and at the World Twenty20 and, in time, could succeed Alastair Cook as ODI captain.

"Middlesex are fortunate, in Eoin, to have one of the game's best young cricket brains at the club," Fraser. "This talent has been identified by England too and everyone at Middlesex is chuffed that Eoin is regarded so highly. I, like many people who know him, am confident that he has what it takes and will prove to be a fine captain for both teams.

"When Neil Dexter informed me of his desire to stand down as limited-overs captain before Christmas we were lucky that we did not have to look far for a replacement. I immediately contacted Eoin to see whether he was interested and his response was a firm 'yes'. We thought it best to wait until Eoin had returned from Australia, so that we could have a face to face chat, before making any announcements. Everyone at the club is excited at the prospect of working under Eoin."

Morgan, who previously served as Shaun Udal's vice-captain at Middlesex, led England during the ODI series against Australia last year, as well as twice on trips to play Ireland, his former team. He has captained in six one-day internationals and three T20s, impressing with his tactical understanding and cool approach.

"I am really excited about the prospect of captaining Middlesex," Morgan said. "Captaincy has always interested me and it is something I am looking forward to developing over the coming months. I have been at Middlesex for a long time now and in the past I have shown leadership with my bat. I now feel I can expand that leadership role by captaining the side."

Fraser also thanks Dexter for his "significant contribution", having taken on the captaincy in 2010. He led the county to promotion from Division Two the following season, although his form with the bat suffered, resulting in him stepping down in the Championship in 2012. Middlesex won the Twenty20 Cup in 2008 but since a quarter-final appearance in the Friends Provident Trophy in 2009 have failed to challenge in limited-overs competition.

"Middlesex CCC totally understands Neil's position and his desire to focus on his own game. Captaining a team is an honour but it is also stressful and tiring," Fraser said. "Neil has led by example and his values have helped create a good culture at Middlesex."