Eoin Morgan had four Tests against Pakistan to prove he should be on the plane to Australia. He's booked a ticket in one innings after his maiden Test century carried England to 331 for 4 on the opening day at Trent Bridge
Eoin Morgan had four Tests against Pakistan to prove he should be on the plane to Australia. He's booked a ticket in one innings after his maiden Test century carried England to 331 for 4 on the opening day at Trent Bridge. Morgan finished on 125 alongside Paul Collingwood on 81 as the fifth-wicket pair added 213 after Mohammad Aamer's three wickets left England struggling on 118 for 4
Other than Aamer's continued excellence Pakistan's cricket was shambolic less than a week after ending their 15-year drought against Australia. The support bowling lacked control with Danish Kaneria's struggles creating a major headache for Salman Butt and Kamran Akmal had another nightmare behind the stumps. During the first session he dropped a regulation edge from Andrew Strauss and with the game being taken away from them during the final session he couldn't complete a simple stumping when Collingwood charged Kaneria.
Morgan, though, was breathtaking. He raised his hundred (just his seventh in first-class cricket) from 151 balls with a signature straight six off Kaneria - to rubber-stamp an individual battle he won hands down - and it was an innings that answered a lot of questions about technique and temperament.
The fact he did it from a position where England were in some trouble after Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott departed in four balls after lunch added further weight to the innings. Neither did he change his game from what has brought him one-day success; he used his feet to the spinners, drove inside-out through cover and even unfurled the reverse sweep.
There were a couple of nervous moments. Early in the innings he edged Aamer to Akmal but although the keeper claimed the catch - perhaps just in the sheer joy of thinking he'd caught one - replays soon showed it had grazed the turf. When he'd reached 78 he was given lbw to Kaneria but was saved by the UDRS when replays showed the ball would have spun past leg stump. Two of the next three deliveries were driven effortlessly through the covers.
Ironically, had Pakistan not used up their two reviews early in the day they could have referred a lbw appeal against Morgan on 34 when he swept at Shoaib Malik and the ball was hitting flush on leg stump. Both Pakistan's reviews were taken during Pietersen's painful 29-ball innings as the visitors twice challenged not-out decisions. Mohammad Asif was the bowler on both occasions, firstly with an lbw appeal which replays showed was only clipping the bails then when he thought Pietersen had edged to the wicketkeeper but the noise, expertly noticed by Asoka de Silva, had been bat clipping pad.
Pietersen, though, never settled and looked woefully short of form in his first innings for nearly a month and there was no doubt about his eventual dismissal when Asif nipped a ball back which took the inside edge into the stumps. It was another wonderful piece of bowling from an intelligent operator.
England's problems were compounded in the next over when Trott, who had been reprieved by the UDRS when he had 13 after being given lbw to Kaneria despite an inside edge, padded up to an inswinger from Aamer and this time Trott's request for a review couldn't save him.
While Morgan entered needing to prove himself in a tricky situation, Collingwood has made his name in such positions and was quite happy to play second fiddle as his young partner sped away. However, he never passed up a scoring opportunity such as consecutive long hops from the struggling Umar Gul that were cut through the covers after Pakistan had kept England's scoring rate to less than two-an-over for an hour after lunch. By the end of the day the hosts were racing and the stand was England's first over 200 since Alastair Cook and Ravi Bopara added 213 against West Indies, at Chester-le-Street, last May.
Strauss had also looked in good form during the morning session although had a huge stroke of luck when Akmal added another awful drop to a sizeable collection of keeping horrors. Akmal had been tidy during the recent series against Australia but he remains an unconvincing gloveman. Aamer did manage to break the opening stand when he squared up Cook and Imran Farhat at first slip showed his keeper how to take a catch.
Already, though, it was becoming clear that the onus was on Aamer to do the damage himself and when his opening six-over spell ended life became much easier for Strauss and Trott. But 10 minutes before lunch Aamer was recalled for his second burst and with his fourth ball he found Strauss's top edge as the England captain's eyes lit up at a hint of width. Pakistan might have thought they'd shifted the key left hander in the nick of time, but then along came Morgan to stamp his name on Test cricket.