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Morgan shelves Test ambitions for 'special' white-ball side

Eoin Morgan has accepted that his commitment to limited-overs cricket may have ended his hopes of winning back a place in England's Test team

George Dobell
George Dobell
Eoin Morgan has accepted that his commitment to limited-overs cricket may have ended his hopes of winning back a place in England's Test team.
While Morgan, England's captain in limited-overs cricket, insists he would love to add to his 16 Test caps, he admitted he "couldn't see it happening" without a major change of commitment in the coming months.
Morgan, 29, returned from a 12-week trip to India on Tuesday. As well as reaching the final of the World T20 with England, he was a member of the Sunrisers Hyderabad squad - albeit a non-playing member in the final - that won the IPL. He will feature in Middlesex's NatWest Blast side on Thursday. But he has not played a first-class match since July and reasons that he is unlikely to play more than three or four this season. As a result, he has little realistic chance to win a Test recall.
Such is his confidence in the England's limited-overs squad, however, that it is a sacrifice he is happy to have made. He believes his young team could "do something special" over the next few years and he is happy to have prioritised that ambition.
"Do I still want to play Test cricket?" he said "Absolutely. How I'm going to get there? I'm not sure yet. I would have to cut back my white-ball commitments. And at the moment I don't see it happening because of what's happened for me in white-ball cricket in the last year.
"There is a huge opportunity to take this England side forward. Even if I'm not captain in the future, with the crop of players we have at the moment I still believe we could do something special. And that for me in my career at the moment is my priority.
"I don't play a red-ball game until August, so at the moment it's not at the forefront of my thinking. I average about three or four games a year, for the last six years, so playing it and actually focusing on it when you look at the amount of white-ball cricket I play can be difficult."
Crucial to England's improvement in limited-overs cricket has, Morgan's says, been the selection of young players who are largely unscarred from previous defeats. While he remains adamant that the message given to players at the 2015 World Cup - a low ebb even in the context of England's inglorious recent history at such events - was the same as that given to the team now, he believes that this side has little baggage to hold them back.
"It does make it unique that there aren't any guys around who have scars from the past," Morgan said. "I remember the first time I went to Australia in 2010-11, the guys who had been there previously all had stories about going there, but a lot of them were bad stories. They had not won over there. The experience of copping it everywhere - out in the crowd or out and about - rubbed off.
"I remember it was quite intimidating hearing it from a senior player or someone who had played 90 Tests. The fact that we don't have that now gives us a bit of a raw factor.
"Having an unscarred side to do something we've never done before and play in a manner we've never played before has been important. But the way the guys have performed has been outstanding."
Morgan also suggested that the current England limited-overs team had a better attitude than some of those in which he featured previously. "The big thing that's changed is the attitude," he said. "The will to always want to be better.
"It's quite easy for a side, when you do well against strong teams, to sit back and reflect on how good you are as a side. But the will to improve in the side is something different that I've experienced in the last 12 months as opposed to the last six years. That's the thing that's changed for me.
"The character has changed with the personnel. A lot of the guys in the side now are extroverts, but that's just coincidental."
As well as crediting the influence of T20 cricket on the new England side - for the first time, the entire side were developed in the era of the newest format - Morgan also believes an abandoned English domestic competition, the 40-over league, might have played an unheralded part in recent improvements.
The 40-over competition was introduced in England in the late 1960s. But, after many alterations and adaptations, it was finally discontinued at the end of the 2013 season with the ECB reasoning that domestic List A cricket should, as much as possible, mirror that played internationally.
By that time, though, many of this England squad had taken their first steps into professional cricket and Morgan feels the influence of the 40-over competition continues to be felt.
"The 40-over league has a lot to say for itself," Morgan said. "And the manner it was played. In 50-over cricket you often used to have a lull towards the back end for rebuilding. But in 40-over cricket you don't have that. You just keep going. If you lost wickets you might rebuild for five overs. But you kept going.
"A lot of the guys in the team are products of that competition. It's not just T20 cricket that contributes. It's 40-over cricket as well."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo