England in Sri Lanka 2011-12

Tough path back for Morgan

The left-hander could still become a fine Test cricket but he needs to go away and earn another chance. The IPL won't make that any easier

Andrew McGlashan

February 28, 2012

Comments: 24 | Text size: A | A

Eoin Morgan ended a poor tour when he was run out for 9, Pakistan v England, 3rd Twenty20, Abu Dhabi, February 27, 2012
Eoin Morgan now faces a difficult route back into Test cricket © Getty Images

It takes a lot for this England management to drop someone. Especially a batsman. Loyalty and consistency have been buzzwords around the squad since Andy Flower took over and have served the team well in Test cricket. For Eoin Morgan, though, his position had become untenable after a debilitating time in the UAE where his confidence drained away with each passing innings.

He may have survived the cut for the Sri Lanka tour if he'd rekindled his form in the one-day and Twenty20 matches, as Kevin Pietersen managed with such outstanding results. But, if anything, the middle of Morgan's bat became more elusive as the tour drew to a close. His final innings of 9 in the deciding T20 was painful to watch and the mix-up with Pietersen almost merciful. He finished with 184 runs in 13 international innings on the trip. Some will say Morgan has been singled out but unlike Pietersen and Ian Bell, he doesn't have an impressive Test record to fall back on.

His two hundreds, against Pakistan and India, have been interspersed with too many low scores to suggest he is at home in the longest format. This isn't to say that he won't become a fine Test cricketer but he now needs to go away and earn another chance. And that is where his problem arises.

Morgan has an IPL contract with Kolkatta for the tournament that runs from April 4 to May 27. That means, if he doesn't change his mind and opt for county cricket, he will miss at least Middlesex's opening five Championship matches and six if Kolkatta reach the knockout stages. It could be he won't play first-class cricket until facing Sussex at Lord's on May 30. That would give him two four-day matches before the English season switches to Friends Life t20 mode for a month.

Last season Morgan's IPL stint didn't cost him the chance to replace Paul Collingwood at No. 6. He returned to the UK on the eve of the England Lions matches against Sri Lanka in Derby and then struck a brutal 193 to secure his place for the Sri Lanka Test series ahead of Ravi Bopara. But the difference then was that he had been the next man in line. A recall from his current position will be a much tougher task.

However, Morgan remains key to England's ambitions in 50 and 20-over cricket. There is a World T20 title to defend in Sri Lanka during September and October and a firing Morgan will make that a much more realistic aim. Six weeks at the IPL will do that part of his game no harm; the competition isn't the root of all evil. And even if he did play early season for Middlesex and scored a stack of runs it wouldn't necessarily mean a quick return to the Test line up. Whoever replaces him in the team, looking likely to be Ravi Bopara at this stage, deserves the same length of time Morgan had.

Bopara, though, will know his chances are running out for a substantial Test career. In a quirk of fate he is now heading to the country where he made his debut in 2007-08 and collected three consecutive ducks. With England set to play two spinners after Monty Panesar's successful return against Pakistan, Bopara's medium pace can add balance to the side - and a little breathing space for James Anderson and Stuart Broad - but ultimately it won't be eight to ten overs of wobbly seam that keeps Bopara in the side.

The rest of England's squad has shown some pragmatic thinking from the selectors for what is a short tour with one focus, that of Test cricket. Samit Patel is the utility player who could play a few roles and it's a significant vote of confidence that he is considered as the reserve batsman. He will never completely fit with Flower's ethos of an international but another advantage of being on this tour is that he'll be training, both on technique and fitness, at the highest intensity.

James Tredwell, while a surprise inclusion, is the perfect tourist. A seasoned county cricketer who knows his game and wouldn't let Andrew Strauss down if summoned to the eleven at a moment's notice. He showed that ability at the World Cup when he took 4 for 48 to win the crunch group match against West Indies. Tredwell has continued to toil away in the domestic game making the most of his talent. It's a lesson Morgan may now want to heed.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by CricketingStargazer on (March 2, 2012, 10:21 GMT)

@JG, one word of warning on Simon Kerrigan: his reputation is based mainly on one phenomenal match at the end of last season. He was always going to have trouble living up to that performance with the Lions and, you are right, he didn't pull up any trees, but he didn't embarass himself either and the learning experience will stand him in good stead. If he has a good season this summer he is certainly an outside bet for a call up for India. Howver, I wish that Adil Rashid could finally make the breakthrough and have one season when he both bats AND bowls as well as we have seen him do in the past. He would be an ideal all-rounder, but it looks like he is now completely off the radar.

Posted by JG2704 on (March 1, 2012, 20:59 GMT)

@Lanky1 on (February 28 2012, 18:04 PM GMT) Didn't Kerrigan play some of the Lions matches? If so I don't remember him taking too many wickets. Not sure about Parry. Keedy is probably a little old for England to introduce to the test side. Also Monty was our best spinner in the Pak series. There would be something very wrong if he is not in the side

Posted by SirViv1973 on (March 1, 2012, 20:59 GMT)

@Juiceoftheapple I agree totally with your comments regarding why Morgan got in to the side. AF took a punt on him and it hasn't worked out and I don't see him getting back in. Hildreth can count himself very unlucky he seems to have fallen out the reckoning with at least Bopara, Patel, Bairstow and Taylor now ahead of him and as he turns 28 later this year you have to think his ship has sailed.@Herbert also agree with your comments re JB he clearly looks a talent with a great temperament but needs more time to mature and find consistency. I would certainly keep him in both ltd overs teams for the summer programme and T20 WC and also ensure he gets a decent run of 1st class games with Yorks. If he does well then I think he should probably be on the plane to Ind whether its as the extra batter or as the back up wicketkeeper.

Posted by JG2704 on (March 1, 2012, 20:59 GMT)

@GenghisCohen on (February 28 2012, 14:20 PM GMT) - Yes we see what you did there?

Posted by SDHM on (March 1, 2012, 18:08 GMT)

@CricketingStargazer & Herbet - you have to remember that batsmen in the second division have to contend with much greener pitches geared towards promotion-chasing results and the Tiflex ball, so while the quality of attack is lower, the scoring conditions are definitely tougher. Taylor didn't have a great season last year in those conditions, but I still think he's in line for a Test call-up sooner than Bairstow or Stokes; whenever I've seen him in one-day cricket he looks comfortable against spin, and he'll learn a thing or two about batting in seaming conditions playing for Notts at Trent Bridge (although arguably his own side have the strongest seam attack in the division, so he won't be facing them). It'll be interesting to see what happens if Bopara fails again; is Patel a horses-for-courses selection for this tour, or is he genuinely next in line? Is he a better player than Taylor, Bairstow or Stokes? I'm not so sure.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (March 1, 2012, 11:00 GMT)

@Herbert, Taylor plays in CC2, which generally means that you face one or two good new ball bowlers, but that the change bowling is a lot less consistent and pressure is generally relaxed, making run-scoring easier. In CC1 most of the attacks have 3 or even 4 Test-class or neat Test-class bowlers, so there is no respite. I'd rate an average of 40 in CC1 as good as one of 50 in CC2. Even though James Taylor is highly rated, the fact that he gets his runs against much weaker attacks has to be taken into account. Same issue with Ravi Bopara: a 200 against the Leicestershire attack looks good on paper, but is it as good as 100 against Durham?

Posted by SirViv1973 on (February 29, 2012, 22:03 GMT)

@daviddallan Morgan cannot simply walk back in to the irish team Ed Joyce played his last game for Eng during the WC in April 07 . By 2010 he realized he would never make the test side so asked if he could return to play for Ire and the ICC told him he could but not until Apr 11. Ire then appealed and he was allowed 2 return a couple of months early so he could play in the 2011 WC. At the same time Hamish Marshall had indicated he was willing to play for Ire and was eligible due to being married to an Irish national. HM had played his last game for NZL at the 07 WC but in his case the ICC ruled he had to see out the 4 yrs gap and couldn't play at 2011 WC and has since decided not make himself available for IRE. So if EM isn't picked for Eng again he wouldn't under the current rules be able to play for IRE again until Mar 2016, even if they decide to relax the rules i'm sure it will be sometime before he can wear the green again!

Posted by Vilander on (February 29, 2012, 18:08 GMT)

go back to ireland dude, and play IPL..

Posted by Juiceoftheapple on (February 29, 2012, 14:17 GMT)

Agree with Landl. Morgan is an incredible one day player, but test bat he isn't. Test cricket bowling and fielding exploits every weakness in your techinique and shot selection. Morgan was presumbly picked because he took his chance in one dayers, and because Flower wanted a quick scorer. Hildreth missed his chance when he was on fire, Taylor shouldn't miss his chance as well. But very impressed by Bopara particularly against subcontinent teams at the moment.

Posted by Herbet on (February 29, 2012, 13:12 GMT)

I'm a bit confused with why Bairstow is being banded about as a name or the test team? He's done a couple of handy late knocks in an ODI and a T20 but hasn't been consistent yet, even though he does have a very impressive 1st Class average. I'd like to see him given a little longer in the ODI side and for Yorkshire to develop. I would have thought Taylor was the next cab off the rank, he's got an impressive 1st Class record, always scores for the Lions, and has captained them. I think he deserves a go over multiple flop Bopara.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (February 29, 2012, 9:53 GMT)

@Snick, he was picked, I think, mainly because there was a feeling that, like Marcus Trescothick, his rather poor county record was hiding a big match temperment. They were seeing enough in his ODI performances to believe that he could make the step up. At the time it looked like a brave call because he was averaging 24 in 2009 and, if you took out one big innings, his average fell to just 18. In other words, he was picked for the Test side when his county place was far from certain and his form was pretty desperate. He was lucky, in a sense, to come up against a Pakistan side in some disarray and get a Test century early that built up a fair pool of credit, but there was always the feeling that canny bowlers would rumble him sooner or later. Whatever has happened in Tests has not spread to ODIs: before the Pakistan tour he had 5x50 and a 45 in his previous 8 innings. Right now though I would think hard before playing him in ODIs againat once because his confidence looks at rock bottom

Posted by Snick_To_Backward_Point on (February 29, 2012, 8:28 GMT)

landl - couldn't have said it better myself. Never thought Morgan would make a good test bat - far too quirky, far too unorthodox and not cut out for the slower, patient innings IMO.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (February 29, 2012, 7:39 GMT)

There seems to be an assumption that he'll play for Middlesex this summer. That is far from certain in the 4-day game. In fact, he is probably not in their best starting XI right now (even if he were available) and might not find it easy to get First XI games. He'll play the limited overs games, but may not add many at all to the 1 game that he has played in the longer format over the last 2 years!

Posted by landl47 on (February 28, 2012, 23:31 GMT)

There's an assumption here that isn't warranted and that is that Morgan has to find his way back. To my mind, he was never there in the first place and the England selectors just hoped that he would become a test player on no good evidence. A batsman who doesn't bowl and has a first-class average of under 36 has nothing to show that he is test class. Making runs in the shorter formats with no fielders round the bat is a very different matter from test cricket. Both Patel and Bopara have averages of 41 and both bowl a bit, too. Then there are the young players coming up, like Bairstow, Stokes and Taylor, who all have first-class averages much higher than Morgan's even at this early stage in their careers. Morgan has a lot to do if he is going to be considered for test matches again.

Posted by OhhhMattyMatty on (February 28, 2012, 23:28 GMT)

Keedy would be the 3rd left arm spinner, they obviously wanted another offie incase Swann breaks down. Not to mention the fact that Keedy is past it now and has been overtaken by Briggs and Kerrigan these days.

Posted by   on (February 28, 2012, 23:16 GMT)

Tredwell has been picked over Kerrigan, Keedy or Parry because he is an off-spinner, and Patel/Panesar already give you two leggies. End of.

Posted by phoenixsteve on (February 28, 2012, 20:58 GMT)

Good luck to Eoin Morgan and his future wearing the 3 lions. The guy has so much talent and his slightly unothadox approach is like a breath of fresh air! Like all cricketers his form and confidence are fickle and fragile but I'm sure he be back. Things happen for a reason and right now the guy must be concerned about his way back? The next 12 moths will give him a chance to hone his technique and forget the tortures of Pakistani bowling! Good luck Eoin .......

Posted by Lanky1 on (February 28, 2012, 18:04 GMT)

Sure Treadwell is a better bowler than Monty Panesar but how can anyone believe that he is better than Gary Keedy or even Simon Kerrigan or Steven Parry. You only have to look at the last time Keedy and Treadwell played in the same match in 2010 at Canterbury to see how comprehensively Keedy out bowled him.

Posted by Batsnumbereleven on (February 28, 2012, 16:51 GMT)

This is all based on the premise that Morgan would be in consideration for this summer's Tests, which is a reach if Bopara and/or Patel are to be given decent opportunities aheah of him. Missing out on the early part of Middlesex's CC season isn't going to harm Morgan in the slightest as far as that is concerned, as he's unlikely even to be considered for Test selection any time before the Tour squad for NEXT winter is announced.

Bopara deserves at minimum to given both Tests in Sri Lanka and the first two at home to West Indies, and even if he fails then the likes of Patel and Bairstow (amongst others) ought to be in line for consideration ahead of Morgan.

Yes, Morgan needs to spend time getting his long-format game in order, but there's no reason to rush him back, and he should spend most of the summer with Middlesex to that end.

Posted by Irelandcricketfan on (February 28, 2012, 14:23 GMT)

Come home Moggy. We'll always have room for you.

Posted by GenghisCohen on (February 28, 2012, 14:20 GMT)

It's going to be a long path back for Morgan if Samit Patel is blocking his way - it'll take quite a detour to get around him. (See what I did there?) And if it's runs he's short of, then what better place to go than India? Every tourist picks up the runs there. (And again! You see that?)

Still, if the worst comes to the worst and Morgan wants to enjoy some one day success in the future, he could always switch back to playing for Ireland just before they next play England in a major tournament.

Posted by davidallan on (February 28, 2012, 14:04 GMT)

Should go back to Ireland like Ed Joyce.

Posted by   on (February 28, 2012, 13:32 GMT)

Maybe with Ireland knocking on the doors of test Morgan should go back to his home country.....as for Bopara he seems to be gun shy when he comes to test. He and cook came into prominence at the same time but Bopara is in the fringes even now while cook is next line to capraincy

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (February 28, 2012, 13:04 GMT)

Is Eoin Morgan going to play in the IPL or just warm the bench? I seem to remember that he didn't play many games last year. If he is there are a bench-warmer that is not going to do his recovery of form any good at all.

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Andrew McGlashanClose
Andrew McGlashan Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.
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