Morgan fires Middlesex to huge win
Eoin Morgan sent a timely reminder to the England selectors by hitting the fastest century of the season as Middlesex crushed Lancashire by 167 runs in their Clydesdale Bank 40 Group A match at Lord's.
Morgan, who will hope to be included in England’s squad for the NatWest Series, showed that he is back to his audacious best by reaching his hundred off only 49 balls, 17 fewer than the previous quickest by Durham's Phil Mustard against Nottinghamshire last Sunday.
He went on to make 116 off 54 deliveries with 11 sixes and six fours and, with Morgan's fellow Irishman Paul Stirling making a rapid century of his own, Middlesex ran up a total of 350 for six - their highest in 40-over cricket.
It was always going to be too many for Lancashire who slumped to 55 for five before Paul Horton's defiant 49 enabled them to reach 183 in 35 overs as Middlesex moved up to second spot.
The stage had been set for Morgan by a second wicket partnership of 142 in 20 overs between Stirling and Joe Denly, who had made 58 off 57 balls with six fours and a six when he sliced Gary Keedy to backward point.
It was not long before Stirling completed his century off 84 deliveries and he had scored 119 off 99 balls with five sixes and 12 fours when Keedy had him caught at square-leg off a top-edged sweep, but he was to be upstaged by Morgan in a third-wicket stand of 126 in only 11 overs.
A scoreboard showing 168 for two, a short boundary on the Tavern side of the ground and a Lancashire attack containing three left-arm spinners could not have been more inviting for the impish left-hander.
Morgan had scored only 66 runs in four one-day internationals against Pakistan this year and did not get a game for Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League. But, ahead of the naming of England’s squad to face West Indies, he was back to his best.
He impudently reverse-swept his first ball from Keedy for four, straight drove Ajmal Shahzad for his first six soon afterwards and then began peppering the Mound and Tavern Stands with a fusillade of sixes which had spectators ducking for cover.
One of them off Sajid Mahmood took him to his first century for Middlesex in any form of cricket since 2009 and he was trying to clear the boundary again when he was caught at wide long-on off Keedy, who emerged from the onslaught with the exemplary figures of 5-55.