Belfast Telegraph

Morgan must battle test of history for England cricket team

The last Dubliner to play Test cricket for England was Sir Timothy O'Brien. He had not yet ascended to the baronetcy when he was chosen on the back of having scored 942 first-class runs at an average of little more than 20.

If Eoin Morgan, the new sensation of England's batting, wishes to succeed him in the Test middle order, he must do considerably better. Presumably, the selectors having been apparently deceived once by a talented Irishman, they are not about to let the same happen again.

Sir Timothy played five Test matches with a top score of 20 and did not bowl. It was inauspicious stuff. That was between 1884 and 1896 but obviously selectors can never afford to forget.

As Andy Flower, England's team director, said of Morgan yesterday: “He has settled really well to limited-overs cricket and has shown limited-overs talent and shown the capacity to make good decisions and handle pressure.

“As far as a Test career goes, he will have to display for us that he can score heavy runs at first-class cricket which he hasn't done enough of yet.”

That seems a trifle harsh. This week, Morgan became the first person to score one-day hundreds for two countries. His blazing and intelligent 110 not out against Bangladesh ensured that England secured a series they might otherwise have been forced to fight for from 1-1 in the third match being played today in Chittagong.

It was a bravura exhibition, but merely an appendage to several that Morgan has performed in the past six months. So talented is he, such a range of strokes has he played, that it seems to any passing observer that Test cricket must loom.

But the longer form demands different disciplines, greater concentration, an altogether changed personality. Perhaps not all players can have a pitch in both camps, though In Morgan's case this would be more than a passing pity. From what has been seen so far, he could illuminate the stage.

Morgan had a good first class season in 2008 when he made 915 runs at 43.57 but slipped back last year when his season was interrupted by one-day international calls. Therein lies the difficulty for him. He is expected to go off and play in the Indian Premier League this weekend, will then join England for the World Twenty20 and will not play for Middlesex until close to the end of May when they will already have played six Championship matches.

Belfast Telegraph


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