Morgan doubtful for second T20
Eoin Morgan is a doubt for England's second T20 against New Zealand after jarring his back in the field during their 40-run win in Auckland on Saturday. Morgan, who was England's top scorer with 46 from 26 balls and took a brilliant running catch to dismiss Brendon McCullum, tweaked his back later in the New Zealand innings.
The team have moved on to Hamilton, venue for the second T20 on Tuesday, and the England management will assess Morgan's fitness on Monday. If he is unable to train, Morgan's place in the side is likely to be taken by Joe Root, who came on as a substitute fielder in Auckland.
Losing Morgan would leave England without one of their most experienced T20 players as they look to secure the three-match series with a game to spare. Morgan has played 33 times in T20 internationals, putting him sixth for England, with Stuart Broad and the rested Kevin Pietersen among those above him. The most-capped England batsman in the shortest form, however, is Luke Wright, who has played 40 times since his debut in 2007.
Wright joined Alex Hales in making 99, the highest score by an Englishman in T20 cricket, at the World Twenty20 in September. In the first New Zealand T20, Wright hit four sixes in a blistering 20-ball 42, confirming his value at No. 3, and then picked up a useful 2 for 29 with the ball.
With Ashley Giles recently installed as England's limited-overs coach, Wright hopes his consistent T20 form since a recall last year can also push him into Giles' thoughts for the ODI team. "I have huge ambitions to get back in the one-day side," he said. "It's something I'm desperate to do.
"I've just got to keep knocking on the door, and keep badgering Gilo and saying 'Look mate, I'm scoring runs - what have I got to do?' If there's a spot for me, I hope he'll pick me. If there isn't, I can't do much else. Maybe come the end of the tour, it might be something I could sit down and have a chat with him about, to find out what he wants to see from me or where I can improve and give myself better chances to get in."
The Champions Trophy is a major target for England this year and much of the preferred XI is in place. However, with a technically adept top three of Alastair Cook, Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott followed by the power of Pietersen and Morgan, England could do with an allrounder to help balance the side. Wright's ODI bowling average of 57.53 weighs against him but, with Tim Bresnan undergoing further elbow surgery and the likes of Chris Woakes unproven, he could still make a case for his inclusion.
"It's quite tough obviously at the top of the order - with KP, Cookie, Belly and Trotty to come back in," Wright said of his ODI chances. "But I'd like to come into that middle order if there's no role for me at the top, and obviously my bowling might help. Batting at number three [in T20], I'm getting a key role in an England side - a responsibility that gives me a lot of confidence, and it's great to repay that faith."
Wright and Morgan helped England to their record T20 total in Auckland and with the small boundaries at Seddon Park - scene of the fastest T20 hundred, by Richard Levi a year ago - the next match could be another high-scoring one. New Zealand will have allrounders Ian Butler and Grant Elliott to choose from, after they were passed fit, and may be tempted to make changes.
The game will provide another opportunity for Ross Taylor to continue his international comeback. Mike Hesson, New Zealand's coach, was pleased to have the batsman available again, although he agreed with Taylor's assessment of their relationship, after a controversial change in the captaincy. "It was certainly good to have him back," Hesson said. "I think 'work in progress' is a good term. We're working well together ... and the longer we do that the better that relationship will be. But it's going to take a while before we're going out for coffee every week."