Morgan is ready to do whatever it takes to get his Test career back on track
While the Indian Premier League (IPL) may have reeled in many of the world’s best cricketers due to the lucrative contracts on offer, England batsman Eoin Margan has announced that he is ready to give up that world of glitz and glamour if it means that he can represent his country again.
Morgan was dropped from the England Test squad after having a horrendous series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates, and is scheduled to play for the Kolkata Knight Riders in next year’s IPL, but he noted that he would rather play county cricket in England if it gets him a spot on the Test roster again.
Even though Morgan would be entitled to miss the first four to five weeks of the domestic circuit for Middlesex, he knows that in order to secure a place on the Test squad, he will have to impress the selectors through his first-class performances.
While Morgan did not have the opportunity to play one game for the Knight Riders in this year’s IPL, he noted that he gained valuable experience training alongside some of the world’s best batsmen and bowlers.
“The bigger picture for me is playing Test cricket, as a 15-year-old I came across to England to play Test cricket. It’s always been my priority. I’ve had a little sniff of it and I’ve absolutely loved it. I was in the side when we became No. 1 and I was on the Ashes tour as a spare batter. Nothing can ever come close to the stuff you experience as a winning Test-match side. If it came about that I was back in the Test team during the IPL I’d be the happiest bloke in the world,” Morgan said.
England coach Andy Flower will be pleased to hear these words from Morgan after telling him “you’re not going to learn much about Test batting in the IPL”.
Flower has also blamed the IPL as being “the catalyst” in the disintegrating relationship between England batsman Kevin Pietersen and his team-mates.
But, Morgan feels that representing your country in Test cricket is more rewarding than all of the money on offer in the IPL.
Even though Morgan has done well in the limited overs format, he still knows that the selectors will need more convincing before they give him the green light to join the Test squad again, and the only way this will happen is if Morgan plays for Middlesex and produces some outstanding performances throughout the County Championship.
Morgan declared that he was ready to work hard to earn his place back on the Test roster, and if that means sacrificing his contracts in Australia’s Big Bash League and the IPL, he is ready to do that.
“Is Test cricket my priority? Absolutely. I’ve never doubted that. If I’m involved in international cricket, it always takes priority and if I’m within one or two positions of the Test team, then I’ll probably make the decision myself to come back and play county cricket. If I’m in the frame for a Test place, then things might have to change [regarding IPL availability], definitely. I looked into it a small bit this year but, because I was three or four places off the Test side I left it. I don’t think I can play Big Bash. If all goes well I’ll be on the Test tour, if not I’ll make other plans. When anybody gets dropped they need to show that they’re in substantial form and that they’ve scored enough runs to justify their position in the side. They need to show they’ve come back a better player. Looking back I’m a better player than I was at the start of the year. I’ve proven that in spurts over the summer. Hopefully again I can do that again during this ODI series against South Africa,” Morgan said.
Morgan’s first-class record does not stand out for someone with aspirations to earn his place back on the Test squad since he has not scored a first-class century in over a year, and to add insult to injury, his average throughout his seven-year career with Middlesex stands at a disappointing 32.71.
To make things even worse, Morgan has had a terrible run of form in five County Championship matches this year, averaging just 18.16.
Morgan now has the opportunity to impress the selectors during the ODI series against South Africa.
Even though Morgan was quick to say that he has never had any problems with Pietersen personally, he admitted that other players might benefit from Pietersen’s absence on the team.
“Kevin is a world class cricketer and any team around the world would want him in their side, but there are issues surrounding him at the moment and it will take time to resolve them; the quicker that happens the better. Personally I didn’t find him difficult but I’ve not been around the Test team a lot. The guys who have come in have done really well. Ian Bell has come in and been amazing and maybe the extra responsibility, in Ravi Bopara’s case, has helped him blossom as a cricketer. I’ve practised with Ravi for years and it’s now that he’s really showing the cricketer is capable of being and that’s great,” Morgan said.
With England losing their world number one Test ranking to South Africa, and in danger of losing their top ODI ranking to the Proteas as well, Morgan stated that England had to fight hard to stay on top and never give up.
“The focus as a side to is to progress up the rankings and build towards the World Cup and Champions Trophy next year. We’re making huge steps towards bringing in match-winners who can take the game by the scruff of the neck and move forward,” Morgan added.