Dropping Eoin Morgan gives England options for Sri Lanka
Eoin Morgan had been earmarked as a talented and innovative stroke maker, yet he has been found wanting in in the Test arena
No matter the amount of talent, enduring a two-month cricket tour in which your top score is just 31 is always likely to end badly. And for Eoin Morgan, dropped for England’s squad to face Sri Lanka, that was the case.
Morgan had been earmarked as a talented and innovative stroke maker. Yet he has been found wanting in the Test arena recently, having experienced a horror tour of the UAE against Pakistan.
The Irish left-hander was brought into the England Test side to bat at number six. He manoeuvres the ball into unusual areas, using his wrists to find gaps but is also capable of striking heavy, conventional blows.
It was in the ODI and T20 side that Morgan flourished first and emerged as England’s own Michael Bevan, a ruthless finisher in a run chase with nerves of steel. He was promoted to the Test side in May 2010 and nailed down a place in the side when Paul Collingwood retired after the Ashes.
To say he has an unusual technique is an understatement. His trigger movement at the crease, an exaggerated leg twist and knee flex, is the most flamboyant in world cricket.
But, his talent is undoubted. Wagon wheels for both his Test match centuries to date show he is capable of scoring runs on both side of the wicket – and his temperament is superb.
His downfall has come from a lack of confidence and, as Andy Flower hinted, indecision in how to adapt his wristy, inventive game to the five-day format.
A spell away from international cricket should serve him well and there is no doubt that Morgan will return to the England set up at some point. The fact that his next stop is at the lucrative IPL, though, is less than ideal.
Nevertheless, his omission from the Sri Lanka tour gives England options. Ravi Bopara and Samit Patel seem to be in a straight fight for his place at number six, with Tim Bresnan cited as a possible outside contender in some circles.
Both Patel and Bopara would need to chip in with a few overs, should they play. Given England’s success, with the ball at least, in using Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann in the same side in the UAE, Bopara could have the edge as a part time medium pacer.
Before the second Test against Pakistan, England last played two spinners as part of a four-man attack eight years ago, so fielding three in the same team may be a bit too progressive at this point.
Bresnan could come in to make a five-man attack, with three seamers and two spinners, but it is a formula that Flower and England have been reticent in using. Bopara, who has been performing admirably in ODIs for a while, will probably be given another opportunity to seal a long term Test spot.
Without doubt England will be served a lot of spin bowling in Sri Lanka, such was their incompetence in dealing with it against Pakistan. Sri Lanka, along with the other countries, will no doubt see it as a weakness they can exploit. Bopara and the other batsmen need to find a way to deal with that threat. If they don’t, Morgan may find his wait to get back into the side a very short one.