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Morgan's break raises intriguing questions

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'Priority is driving one-day cricket forward' - Morgan (1:04)

England ODI captain Eoin Morgan looks ahead to Monday's only T20 match against Australia, in Cardiff (1:04)

As English cricket tears itself apart once more, searching for the perfect domestic and international schedule to appease all the different agendas and priorities, the message coming from their limited-overs captain is clear.

After a month away from the game, Eoin Morgan described himself as "twice the man" he was. He described himself as "fresh" and "raring to go" and his "attitude, mind and body a lot better."

It is an intriguing message as the review into the structure of English cricket continues. While the traditional view has been that players benefit from several matches ahead of an important series, Morgan will go into the T20 at Cardiff on Monday having not played a match since August 1. And, in that match, he was dismissed without scoring.

Morgan has never made much effort to hide his view: the county schedule - the quantity of matches, the travel and the lack of time for rest, recovery and practice - hinders the progress of England players. The domestic grind, with its priorities more towards consistency than flair, has rarely brought the best out of a man who appears to thrive on adrenalin, excitement and the big crowd atmosphere. There are echoes - albeit extreme ones - of the PCA's recent survey of their members in Morgan's views.

And to some extent, that is great. There have been many players who have excelled in county cricket only to wilt under the pressure of the big occasion. If Morgan is to be the other way around, it could well benefit England. David Gower was not so different.

So, a month ago, enduring a wretched run of form in County Championship cricket, Morgan approached the Middlesex director of cricket (and England selector) Angus Fraser and spoke about his need for a break. He was helping neither himself or his team by attempting to fight his way through his modest form - he had suffered a pair in his last Championship match - and concluded that a fresh mind would be of more benefit than more work. It is the sort of decision that might have benefitted Jonathan Trott at one stage.

"He dismissed the idea that he will not return to red-ball cricket, but the thought is not so outlandish. There may be merit in him dedicating his future wholeheartedly to limited-overs cricket"

The original idea was to take only two weeks away from the game. But as the deadline for a return loomed, Morgan decided that a full month off would be, in his words, "ideal" and thanked Fraser for his ability to see the bigger picture and put England ahead of Middlesex. "I can't imagine there are many county directors that would have taken English cricket as a priority over possibly Championship or one-day games," Morgan said.

He dismissed the idea that he will not return to red-ball cricket, but the thought is not so outlandish. He has averaged just 10.16 for Middlesex in first-class cricket this season - lower than Steven Finn or Tim Murtagh - and has not made a half-century. There may be merit in him dedicating his future wholeheartedly to limited-overs cricket.

That might seem like quite a sacrifice for a man who has always said he left Ireland in the hope of playing Test cricket, but increasingly it looks as if that chapter in his life is over. He does not have a bad record in his 16 Tests - he averages 30.43 and was good enough to score two Test centuries; one of them an excellent innings against Pakistan in demanding conditions - but there are many younger men ahead of him in the tussle for a place now and, if a fresh body and mind is key to his best form, there seems more benefit in concentrating on becoming exceptional in the shorter formats than trying to be decent in all three.

And, if England are true to their promise to award equal priority to the shorter formats, there should be no stigma attached to the decision to specialise. England's record at the last couple of World T20s and the last half-dozen World Cups is wretched. Perhaps having a captain who is not compromised by the demands of Test and county cricket would go some way to changing that.

Morgan insists that England's priority has now turned to "the World T20 and driving our one-day cricket forward." But even now, those priorities are compromised. Joe Root, arguably England's key batsmen in all three formats these days, has been - quite sensibly - rested to preserve him for winter tours against Pakistan and South Africa and four of the 13-man squad were involved in T20 Finals day on Saturday.

It will be intriguing to see which fare better: those who have recently played or Morgan, who feels refreshed and renewed. The problem for Morgan is that, if he fails, he opens himself up to the charge of having not prepared properly.

With only five T20 games to go before they pick their squad for the World T20 (they will play two in South Africa after the squad is announced), England have limited opportunity to look at new players.

James Vince, who looks in sublime form and top-scored in the NatWest T20 Blast season, is one man pushing for opportunity, while Reece Topley, the tall left-arm swing bowler who has been the subject of interest from nine counties and is quite certain to leave Essex, is also an intriguing option. Moeen Ali looks set to return to the side, probably in the top three, in place of Root.

"The ideal scenario is that we don't change the ODI team that much to the T20 team," Morgan said. "That's Plan A at the moment. We want to get a formula together before the World T20.

"I'm hoping we can add five or six more names to the group of players we saw in the last one-day series and then stick with over the next two or three years to build something.

"In the last two World T20s, our skill level hasn't been good enough to string enough wins together. We have, I think, the players to do that, but we need them in good form and to form the right plan to suit the players that we have."

Part of that plan has to accept that several of the squad that travel to India for the World T20 in early March - certainly Root, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Finn and quite possibly Adil Rashid and Alex Hales - will have already had busy winters.

The tour of the UAE to face Pakistan, which starts at the beginning of October, ends at the end of November. The tour of South Africa - which starts in less than two weeks later - ends in the final week of February. The benefits of rest may be illustrated by Morgan, but it is hard to see a way that the rest of the squad can be accommodated in the same way.