Morgan gets his Ashes chance as Bopara is left behind
Eoin Morgan and Ajmal Shahzad have a golden opportunity to seal a place on the Ashes tour this winter after being selected for the first test with Pakistan in Nottingham on Thursday.
Both were handed debuts against Bangladesh earlier in the summer with Shahzad in particular impressing with a fiery spell of reverse swing bowling.
Morgan’s selection is more speculative however, particularly with Ravi Bopara in sparkling form for Essex.
Bopara hit a pair of centuries against Yorkshire at Chelmsford last week but England have chosen to give Morgan a second chance to stake his claim in the absence of Ian Bell.
Bell remains in pole position ahead of the opening test in Brisbane in November, particularly as England appear intent on retaining their favoured four-man bowling attack.
But should he struggle to recover from a broken foot sustained in the second ODI against Bangladesh, either Morgan or Bopara would have to fill in.
Morgan is a difficult player to interpret.
On the one hand he is unconventional, unproven against short, fast pitched bowling and has made just six first class centuries in 51 games.
However, he has proven in the one day arena that he has the kind of temperament which is necessary to excel in the test arena.
The English county system is often criticised for its inability to translate results at international level and players such as Michael Vaughan were plucked from apparent obscurity to excel for England.
But after Bopara’s disastrous Ashes debut last summer, England seem reluctant to pick the 25-year-old with the old enemy once again in their horizons.
Morgan will need to take advantage of the next four tests though to repay the faith put in him by Andy Flower.
A pair of solid starts against Bangladesh allowed them a glimpse of what Morgan looks like in whites but 40’s need to become 140’s to make his selection worthwhile.
Bopara was rendered devoid of form and confidence against Australia but he is not the first to wilt in the heat of an Ashes series, and has 17 first class centuries, including three at test level.
Morgan may well be the right man for the job but he needs to prove himself, and quickly.