England Lions v Sri Lankans, Derby, 1st day May 19, 2011

Calm Morgan returns in style

Eoin Morgan has never been one to go by convention, especially with a bat in his hand, and once again showed that there is more than one way to be ready for first-class cricket. An innings of 156 off 177 balls would be impressive by someone in the middle of a golden run of form after hours in the middle, never mind a batsman coming off six weeks of stop-start Twenty20 cricket.

In one, still unfinished, innings for England Lions against the Sri Lankans he scored more runs than he managed in nine knocks (137) for Kolkata Knight Riders at the IPL. If all the talk is right then he hasn't got much chance of making the Test squad when it is announced on Sunday, but he gave another persuasive display of his unique ability.

By the end of the day he was dispatching deliveries to the boundary with more freedom that he often managed during the IPL where, apart from one innings of 66, he struggled to make an impact. Morgan has shown before the ability to come in from the cold and score immediate runs when he was drafted into the World Cup and scored a half-century against Bangladesh, having not picked up a bat for six weeks due to a broken finger.

"I've only practised a couple of days since I got back, but it's been really solid and today to get some time in the middle has been really good," he said. "I'm quite fresh so feel quite comfortable at the crease."

He also keeps the game very simple when it comes to switching from the longest format and believes his IPL stint was a huge benefit for him. "I don't think it's a big challenge, you play every ball as you see it," he said. "The experience in the IPL has been invaluable, playing under a lot of pressure and in high-pressure situations. I think I learnt a lot out there by brushing shoulders with legends of the game."

He had a captive audience, too, at Derby including national selector Geoff Miller and England coach Andy Flower but Morgan wasn't getting bogged down over what will happen at the weekend. "The selectors were here today and they'll pick the team, I've no idea what will happen," he said.

Another player straight back from the IPL is Kumar Sangakkara, the former Sri Lanka captain, and he had plenty of time to assess Morgan at first hand. "He was pretty attacking right from the start and it paid off. Even though there was some grass on the surface I don't think we did the basics as well as we can."

Stuart Law, Sri Lanka's interim coach, has few concerns about Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene adjusting in time for the first Test at Cardiff but Sangakkara knows there are an important few days ahead. "It's going to be a challenge but something I'll enjoy," he said. "It's about getting used to the tracks and making a few adjustments, both mentally and technically, then getting on with the job."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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