England v South Africa, 2nd NatWest ODI, West End August 27, 2012

Morgan to put Tests above IPL


While the riches on offer in the IPL may have turned the head of Kevin Pietersen, Eoin Morgan insists he will turn his back on the most lucrative competition in world cricket if it helps him regain a place in England's Test side.

Morgan, who was dropped from the Test team after a grim series against Pakistan in the UAE, is contracted to the Kolkata Knight Riders for the 2013 IPL season, but said that international cricket will always take priority and that he would prefer to play county cricket next April and May if it helps him win back a Test place.

While Morgan would, under the terms of his England and Middlesex contract, be entitled to miss the first four or five weeks of the English domestic season in order to play in the IPL, he knows he will need to impress in first-class cricket if he is to force his way back into the Test side. Certainly Morgan's chances of impressing during the 2012 IPL season were limited as he failed to make it into the Kolkata side, though he has previously gone on record to credit the experience of training alongside players from around the world as hugely beneficial to his learning experience.

"The bigger picture for me is playing Test cricket," he said. "As a 15-year-old I came across to England to play Test cricket. It's always been my priority. I've had a little sniff of it and I've absolutely loved it. I was in the side when we became No. 1 and I was on the Ashes tour as a spare batter. Nothing can ever come close to the stuff you experience as a winning Test-match side. If it came about that I was back in the Test team during the IPL I'd be the happiest bloke in the world."

Morgan's words will delight England coach, Andy Flower. Flower has previously stated that "you're not going to learn much about Test batting in the IPL" and blamed Pietersen's desire to play the entire 2013 IPL season and maximise his earning from his £1.2 million deal with the Delhi Daredevils, as "the catalyst" in unsettling the player over recent months.

Morgan, however, feels that the opportunity to play Test cricket is more important than the money on offer in T20 leagues. While he still harbours the hope that his improved form in limited-overs cricket - he looked back to his best in scoring an unbeaten 89 in 63 balls in the ODI against Australia at Lord's in June - will win him a Test recall, he knows that if he is to convince the selectors that he is committed to regaining his Test place, he may well need to prove himself playing for Middlesex in the County Championship. And if that means missing out on the deals available in the Big Bash and the IPL it is a price he is prepared to pay.

"Is Test cricket my priority? Absolutely. I've never doubted that. If I'm involved in international cricket, it always takes priority and if I'm within one or two positions of the Test team, then I'll probably make the decision myself to come back and play county cricket. If I'm in the frame for a Test place, then things might have to change [regarding IPL availability], definitely. I looked into it a small bit this year but, because I was three or four places off the Test side I left it. I don't think I can play Big Bash. If all goes well I'll be on the Test tour, if not I'll make other plans.

"When anybody gets dropped they need to show that they're in substantial form and that they've scored enough runs to justify their position in the side. They need to show they've come back a better player. Looking back I'm a better player than I was at the start of the year. I've proven that in spurts over the summer. Hopefully again I can do that again during this ODI series against South Africa."

Morgan's first-class record is modest for a man with aspirations of playing more Test cricket. He has not scored a first-class century since the Edgbaston Test over 12 months ago and, in his seven-year career with Middlesex, averages just 32.71. His record this season is even more disappointing: he has averaged only 18.16 in the five County Championship matches he has played. While he has scored nine first-class centuries, only three of them have come in the Championship and none have been in the top division.

Morgan's next chance to impress the England selectors comes on Tuesday in the second ODI of the series against South Africa in Southampton. While he is quick to clarify that he has never had any problem with Pietersen personally, Morgan did admit that the opportunity provided to other players in Pietersen's absence might have been beneficial.

"Kevin is a world class cricketer and any team around the world would want him in their side," Morgan said. "But there are issues surrounding him at the moment and it will take time to resolve them; the quicker that happens the better. Personally I didn't find him difficult but I've not been around the Test team a lot.

"The guys who have come in have done really well. Ian Bell has come in and been amazing and maybe the extra responsibility, in Ravi Bopara's case, has helped him blossom as a cricketer. I've practised with Ravi for years and it's now that he's really showing the cricketer is capable of being and that's great.

"The focus as a side to is to progress up the rankings and build towards the World Cup and Champions Trophy next year. We're making huge steps towards bringing in match-winners who can take the game by the scruff of the neck and move forward."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Pan on August 29, 2012, 9:29 GMT

    @crindo77: Talking of English lessons, "Journeyman" is an expression to describe an experienced person, it doesn't necessarily mean somebody selling thier skills overseas. Also, "sub" in that context means below-standard of, i.e. not as good as, so it seems you & Yorkshire86 agree with each other (that the IPL isn't 1st-class), for differing reasons. Otherwise, fair point, even though it's cheesy, the IPL is a high-class competition & Morgan would have to work very hard to get back in anyway.

  • A on August 29, 2012, 5:00 GMT

    Never heard of this player called Morgan.Maybe he wants to be famous by saying that he plays in the IPL and wants to give up for England.hahaa

  • Harmon on August 28, 2012, 19:03 GMT

    Those who are praising Morgan for putting country above club need to tell us what is the country of Eoin Morgan - is it England or is it Ireland? Morgan warmed the bench during the last IPL and wasn't considered good enough to be one of the 4 foreign players - this when he was among the top rated players in the world at that time. Lol, it clearly shows how limited a player he is even at the club T20 level and he is now making a holy deed out of a real mockery by saying he won't play in IPL if it comes in the way? Sour Grapes perhaps --- or may be he got bitter grapes....Ha Ha Ha.

  • Dummy4 on August 28, 2012, 16:24 GMT

    What a ridiculous news. Is Morgan such a great star of past editions of IPL that this even counts as a news? He does not even figure in the regular XI of KKR! Moreover, why does IPL has to be in the news whenever some random English cricketer does something? If IPL is so bad then just forget about it and quietly play county cricket and what ever you have in England. Why make a grand announcement involving IPL? As @200ondebut has correctly pointed out, the funniest thing is, to be eligible to play for England you no longer need to do well in county cricket or anything but need to take the solemn pledge "I shall not play IPL". It has substituted the oath of allegiance to Queen and Country. That seems to make the most difference. By the way, it is a call to all IPL bashers, if you think IPL is so bad then do not see it and ask your country's players not to come. Moreover, for certain specific countries, tell your players to stop crying foul when you are not allowed to play in IPL.

  • Naveen on August 28, 2012, 16:02 GMT

    Eoin Morgan wants to play TEST cricket, he is not worried about representing IRELAND. So there is no question of Patriotism.

    To Play for England it is clear that he needs to impress Mr.Flower hence this statement about IPL.

    So those who feel they are impressed about this statement of his get your bearings.

  • debarata on August 28, 2012, 15:40 GMT

    IPL won't miss Morgan; or KP; or anybody else for that matter. Like it or not, with its silly cheerleaders, low pitches, and predictable commentary,it's here to stay. Hence BCCIs conspicuous silence in asking for a window. They don't need one. As for Eoin, well what with a possible Test reshuffle on the cards post KP-gate, Flower's IPL antipathy, this is a predictable move, given that he is a "journeyman" cricketer, one among England's ever growing foreign legion jostling for a living. @yorkshire86, "sub first class Indian journeymen", er, it IS an INDIAN LEAGUE, so can't really call them journeymen in their own country, thats for foreigners like KP,Morgan, Broad etc. An English lesson might be in order. And from your handle, presumably an English supporter, why taunt players playing in one's own country as "sub first class..."; thats uncalled for, and again incorrect. Newsflash! its not a first class league. Reminds me of Flower's jibe about Test skills and IPL; stating the obvious?

  • John on August 28, 2012, 15:10 GMT

    @RogerC on (August 28 2012, 07:37 AM GMT) Exactly , name players who don't necessarily perform that brilliantly. Kallis and Narine were decent but were any of the others actually performing or just selected for reputations? I would have an in form Morgan in my T20 side above all the players you mentioned with the exception of maybe Narine and Kallis

  • John on August 28, 2012, 15:09 GMT

    @Jindal Priyank on (August 28 2012, 09:32 AM GMT) You said about WI players returning to a winning cause and I corrected you and now you're going on about SA which has nothing to do with the post I corrected you on. I'm not slating IPL as a bad thing and saying that playing IPL makes players underperform - just that your argument re WI was flawed.

  • John on August 28, 2012, 15:09 GMT

    @v_singh on (August 28 2012, 10:23 AM GMT) In tests I'd possibly chose Woakes ahead of Broad and Onions ahead of Finn , but I don't feel too strongly about it and your side looks way better than the sides we've been playing this year. Big fan of the balance of it. I just don't think they'll do it though. Also I'd still love KP to be involved but that looks as unlikely as England playing 5/1/5

  • John on August 28, 2012, 15:09 GMT

    @thalalara on (August 28 2012, 11:08 AM GMT) Watch some of the last t20wc and you'll find out exactly who he is

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