England v Australia, 1st NatWest ODI, Headingley

Morgan hopes to propel himself to Ashes

David Hopps

September 5, 2013

Comments: 23 | Text size: A | A

Eoin Morgan swept England back on course, Ireland v England, one-off ODI, Malahide, September 3, 2013
Eoin Morgan hopes a successful series with the bat and as captain against Australia can propel him onto the Ashes tour party © Getty Images

England's decision to rest several senior players from the NatWest Series against Australia was not to everyone's tastes. Michael Vaughan, an Ashes-winning captain, who knows what fatigue after the Ashes is all about, suggested half-seriously that spectators should be offered their money back.

But when Eoin Morgan, who is deputising for Alastair Cook as captain, spoke of "a great energy" in the squad ahead of the first ODI at Headingley and dismissed suggestions that this series is very much a case of After the Lord Mayor's Show, the case for a freshened-up England squad was hard to resist. Rest those who are weary and open up opportunities to others: it is not a bad philosophy.

Those who contended that watching a settled England Test side win the Ashes without much panache at times became a bit of a drag should logically now be beside themselves with joy at the prospect awaiting them. "Young, talented and exciting," is how Morgan described his unproven squad.

Morgan did not pull off the conjuring trick of playing in the IPL and still being selected for England's Ashes Test side, that outside prospect coming to grief because of an operation on a broken finger in late June. Before his matchwinning century in Dublin, he managed only one half-century this season.

But England's batting order for the Ashes still has one spot still up for debate, the No. 6 slot, and there is the opportunity to attempt the conjuring trick all over again. Captain influentially and score a stackful of runs and England will at least have to throw his name in the mix even if Ravi Bopara's greater commitment to the long-form game makes him a more persuasive candidate.

"At this stage of the summer I am taking every innings as an opportunity to score runs and prove what I am capable of doing," he said. "If that opportunity arose at the end of the summer I would be a very happy man."

But happiness is drawn at the moment from other places. "The things I've most enjoyed about captaincy has been handing out caps to debutants," Morgan said. "It's fantastic to see guys being rewarded for a lot of hard work over a number of years by pulling the England shirt on and that makes me smile every day."

England's greatest risk is in temporarily shelving a successful opening partnership, Cook and Ian Bell, that has been at the heart of their one-day approach in the past couple of years. Michael Carberry looks bound to fill one of those spots, even if there will be some disquiet at his nervous debut against Ireland, leaving the difficult decision about whether Jonathan Trott or Kevin Pietersen - or for that matter Joe Root - partners him at the top of the order.

"Kev has opened the batting for England before and done well," Morgan said. "It's certainly an option. He also bats in the middle-order as a very explosive player. He's very versatile in that regard so we'll be looking at both options. The openers are filling big shoes. Cooky and Belly have been a huge part of our success in the past few years. Two new balls makes the role all the more difficult."

Whichever route England take will be disruptive to some degree. Trott has been very settled in the order at No. 3, but perhaps Trott, too, would be more adept at facing the new ball. It is a tough decision.

There are other issues, too. With Morgan and Bopara both making hundreds in Ireland, and Jos Buttler fulfilling keeping duties at No. 7, the easiest way of including Ben Stokes is as a bowling allrounder at No. 8, as happened in Ireland, a role he must contest for at Headingley with Sussex's uncapped Chris Jordan.

The use of Stokes as a third seamer might suit England - even though they looked a bowler light at times in Ireland - but it does not necessarily suit Stokes, whose batting and bowling for Durham carries equal potential even if the bowler-friendly Chester-le-Street pitches do not always encourage such a notion. His Championship hundred in Durham's toppling of the erstwhile leaders, Yorkshire, at Scarborough last week was his first of the season and he made a mature contribution.

It is to be hoped that Stokes gets a run one way or another. He is a much-improved cricketer, a sleeker figure than the player who was sent home in disgrace, along with Kent's Matt Coles, for one too many late-night drinking sessions on a Lions tour of Australia last winter.

Stokes says he now feels entirely "forgiven" by the England management for his England escapades. He promised Durham's director of cricket, Geoff Cook, that he would mend his ways after his Australian excesses and so he has. He is in the England squad while Coles has been loaned to Hampshire for the rest of the season after declining a new contract at Kent.

He remains a straightforward lad, yet to adopt too many trappings of an England player, and took a simple pleasure in tweeting a picture of himself and some of his Durham team-mates tucking into a celebratory Chinese takeaway after their Scarborough victory. Such is the efficiency of England's backroom staff that he will probably have received an analysis of the meal since then, complete with a printout of its calorific content, energy quotient and restful sleep maximisation percentage.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by HashRulz on (September 7, 2013, 13:49 GMT)

there are vain of players suitabla for 6th test place.bopara,J Taylor,baiirstwo,morgan... I think James Taylor is the best selection.but morgan also can prove that.He is a fine odi & t2o player

Posted by VillageBlacksmith on (September 7, 2013, 9:00 GMT)

@Charlie101... Cdnt agree more... The Root experiment has not worked, an early nick off in every innings, inc the 180... Root was ''problem solved'' @ 6 and Compo is a better opener esp on aussie pitches... Intense yes, but he will calm down as he plays more and Root will score many more tons returned to 6.. And yes, I believe they shdv played Tremlett @ The Oval and def not Kezza, esp after his ordinary showing in the Lions match.. Morgan is not a test player, neither is Bopara... Taylor and JB as backup for me

Posted by salazar555 on (September 6, 2013, 13:00 GMT)

The problem for both Morgan and Bopara is that they have had a chance in test cricket and not taken it. Both have very average test and first class records and both have not done particularly well in first class cricket this year. The selectors have moved on from both as far as test cricket is concerned, the likes of Taylor, Ballance, Bairstow, Woakes and Stokes will be fighting it out for the number 6 spot in the test team as that is the only spot up for grabs

Posted by   on (September 6, 2013, 12:53 GMT)

Chris Jordan and Jamie Overton? Is this an England E Team or what? Overton has an economy of 6.15 in List A!!!

Posted by   on (September 6, 2013, 12:49 GMT)

Still no runs for Luke Wright and Jos Buttler in this game then! Just like I thought! Hehe.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (September 6, 2013, 12:19 GMT)

@ Jono Makim on (September 6, 2013, 11:09 GMT. You are absolutely right. It's a totally misleading headline & therefore I must apologise to anyone who was incensed by my critical comment about Eoin Morgan. It's my fault for not checking precisely what EM actually is reported as saying - and discounting the headline which really ought to be changed. *'Young, talented and exciting,' says proud Morgan * would do, perhaps.

Posted by CapitalMarkets on (September 6, 2013, 12:18 GMT)

Agree with @RodStark that Bopara should go to Australia. Actually think that his well publicised family difficulties have prevented us from seeing the best of him so far. He certainly did wilt under pressure as a younger man but the ODI against Ireland shows that he has matured and acquired the mental toughness necessary to compete in Australia. I didn't think that Bairstow looked particularly permanent in the Ashes series. I also thought that, having won the Ashes, they should have asked for a really quick wicket at the Oval and played Tremlett or Onions or given a debut to Rankin or one of the younger strike bowlers in a five man attack. Slow bowlers aren't going to win a test series in Australia. As far as Bopara being a stock bowler, what's wrong with that? If he keeps it tight, like Watson did for Australia and Gayle does for West Indies, that's fine. There have been plenty of batsmen who operated usefully down the years. Bill Edrich, D'Oliveira and Barrington come to mind.

Posted by CapitalMarkets on (September 6, 2013, 11:48 GMT)

I agree wholeheartedly with @Nutcutlet about Morgan's effective choice of IPL over county / test crciket but it is hard not to have a great deal of sympathy with him. If Zimbabwe are good enough for full test status, then Ireland certainly is. It seems very unfair that by the time that this is recognised by the authorities, Morgan's best years will be behind him. It's a bit like Richards, G Pollock and Barlow for South Africa, except it seems so unnecessary because whatever troubles Ireland have had, they haven't had apartheid. We are repeatedly told that you can't play every format all the time, unless you are called Clarke and have a suspect back.

Posted by   on (September 6, 2013, 11:09 GMT)

That FC average of 34 might just hold you back a bit old son! I'd have thought that Taylor, Ballance and perhaps Compton may be there or thereabouts but Morgan?!

@R_U_4_REAL_NICK, nice to see you continue to pigeon hole Warner!

@Nutcutlet, in fairness to Morgan I can't really see him quoted as saying he should be in the squad? Yet another shoddy headline I think.

Posted by siddhartha87 on (September 6, 2013, 9:56 GMT)

England experiments too much ODIs.They must need a destructive opener .Cook,Bell and Trott can't win u too many matches.I guess England will fail to reach the final four for the 6th consecutive in 2015 wc

Posted by satishchandar on (September 6, 2013, 8:12 GMT)

I am not sure whether England can discard Morgan yet.. All the replacements after Morgan have done lesser than him at their best.. Morgan atleast can play spin well and is a good hitter.. He could get chance as there are not any worthy replacement for the no.6 slot.. Woakes as a all rounder at 6 is certainly a risk..

Posted by Charlie101 on (September 6, 2013, 7:05 GMT)

There are a number of players ahead of Morgan for the number 6 Test spot including Woakes , Bopara , Taylor , Bairstow and Ballance. The selectors could also eat a little humble pie and recall Compton to open with Root at 6 which may be the best solution.

Posted by salazar555 on (September 6, 2013, 6:45 GMT)

Runs in county cricket then Morgan, it's as simple as that. If you want to get picked for test cricket then score runs in 4 day cricket, runs in 20/20 or 50 over cricket should have little to no merit on whether someone gets picked for test matches

Posted by jmcilhinney on (September 6, 2013, 6:44 GMT)

@donnao on (September 6, 2013, 6:15 GMT), if Ireland themselves are aiming for Test status in 2020 then the ICC are hardly going to grant it sooner. You really think Morgan will go back to Ireland in the hope of playing a Test for them at 33 years old?

Posted by donnao on (September 6, 2013, 6:15 GMT)

morgan may be dreaming of test comeback,,,,i dont think so,,,,better option is going back to ireland ,,,take rankin with him,,,,win something for ireland team and impress icc,,, get ireland test status.....morgan ll become the best middle order batsman for ireland......

Posted by landl47 on (September 6, 2013, 0:38 GMT)

Like Warner, Morgan is a much better player when he hasn't got fielders round the bat to take the catches that his deficient defence makes inevitable. He's not a test player and until he spends some serious time working on staying at the crease he never will be.

I don't like Bopara at all for Australia- he hasn't the technique as a batsman and his bowling is a waste of time in Aus conditions. The #6 spot appears to be between Bairstow and Taylor, with Bairstow very much the favourite. Ballance's failure to make runs against Ireland probably means he has to wait another year.

Posted by class9ryan on (September 6, 2013, 0:15 GMT)

Morgan might be one of England's best ODI players, but he certainly isn't the solution for a no.6 spot in the 5-day format. I believe if he can continue to play the shorter formats, there is no harm to English cricket. There are quite a few better than him in the longer version.

Posted by RodStark on (September 6, 2013, 0:12 GMT)

I almost choke on my words as I type this, but if he does well in this series, I really think that Bopara is the best choice for the 6 position during the Ashes. This is mainly because he is probably as good batting-wise as the alternatives (Bairstow, Bopara, Morgan) and offers an excellent fifth-bowler option. The other alternative would be to move Root back down to 6 and bring in Carberry or Compton as opener, but I don't think the selectors will ever backtrack on their decision that Root is the best choice to open with Cook. I don't think Woakes is a long-term option at 6.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (September 5, 2013, 23:39 GMT)

Nothing against Morgan but, if he was serious about getting back into the Test squad, he should have done everything he could to play as much FC cricket as possible. It's that simple. Using limited-overs games to blood youngsters at international level when you already fancy them for a Test place is one thing but picking someone of Morgan's age and experience for a Test side based on ODI form alone would be ludicrous.

Posted by Jaffa79 on (September 5, 2013, 22:20 GMT)

I don't want to sound cynical but these one dayers at the end of Ashes series end up being pointless. The Aussies are tired and want to go home and the English have chosen a second team. This is the standard format for the last few Ashes series and ends up being a case of after the Lord Mayor's show. I know it is tricky due to the Champions Trophy but they should try to play ODIs before Tests as it serves as an appetiser for the Tests.

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (September 5, 2013, 19:30 GMT)

Morgan's enthusiasm is admirable, but he is England's equivalent of Australia's David Warner, = short-format specialist at best. In my opinion, he blew any chances he ever had of being considered for anything more than coloured kits when he decided to play IPL.

Is the number six position in tests REALLY still that big a problem? Bairstow didn't exactly disgrace himself during the Ashes, and if anything needs to be done surely moving Root back down the order and bringing back Compton to open would be the most sensible choice? The way I see it, if people argue that Bairstow has not done enough at six, then equally Root has not exactly done enough opening. One thing is for certain: Morgan is not the answer in tests.

Posted by RoBoBobster on (September 5, 2013, 17:52 GMT)

Stokes will probably play, Carberry shouldn't- either Wright as a possible allrounder who opened last game or Jordan to bring strength to the line up will leave the squad as 1.KP 3. Trott 2/4.Root 4/5.Morgan 5/6.Bopara 6/7 Butler 7/8 Stokes 9.Tredwell 10.Rankin 11.Finn and Wright/Jordan (2/8) though I would love both, maybe without Stokes (4 specialist bowlers + 3 allrounders rather than 3bowlers 1bowler/allrounder +3 allrounders vs a boom or bust ozzie line up

Posted by Nutcutlet on (September 5, 2013, 17:43 GMT)

All credit to Eoin Morgan for wanting himself to be involved in the Ashes, but it would be a great idea for him to get used to playing four day cricket first. He had that opportunity earlier in the summer but instead he had exercised his right to choose & went off to the IPL. That is no grounding for Test cricket. It seems to me that he wants the penny & the bun. No deal! Life is full of choices & EM has made his. I daresay there are many others who wish that they actually had the luxury of EM's choice. Ah, the sense of entitlement that talent carries in its backpack.

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David Hopps David Hopps joined ESPNcricinfo as UK editor early in 2012. For the previous 20 years he was a senior cricket writer for the Guardian and covered England extensively during that time in all Test-playing nations. He also covered four Olympic Games and has written several cricket books, including collections of cricket quotations. He has been an avid amateur cricketer since he was 12, and so knows the pain of repeated failure only too well. The pile of untouched novels he plans to read, but rarely gets around to, is now almost touching the ceiling. He divides his time between the ESPNcricinfo office in Hammersmith and his beloved Yorkshire.
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