Morgan's loyalty lies with England
When England and Ireland meet on Tuesday for the second time in an ICC tournament at the Providence Stadium in Guyana, Dublin-born Eoin Morgan will have switched sides.
Morgan made a minimal contribution as Ireland surprised the world by reaching the Super Eights stage of the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean, and was run out for just two against England in Georgetown.
However, since then the inventive left-hander’s career has gone into overdrive and made him a sure-fire selection in England’s ICC World Twenty20 team, as well as winning him an Indian Premier League contract.
Morgan, 23, could be forgiven some mixed feelings when he takes on his native country in what may well be a must-win Group D fixture.
He insists, however, that will unequivocally not be the case.
“None whatsoever,” he said when asked about the possibility of conflicting emotions.
“I have every confidence in the decision I made. Here is where I want to be and I want to do well.”
Morgan has done just that several times already, most recently with a match-winning 63 in Thursday’s warm-up win against South Africa at the Kensington Oval.
He accepts nonetheless his second experience of the big time in the Caribbean will inevitably prove very different to the last.
“It’s great to be back. I’ve some fond memories of being out here,” he said. “It’s a great place to come and chill out.
“That side of things can contribute slightly to being relaxed on the cricket field too.
“But it does feel different, obviously partly because there is a lot more expectation when you’re part of a Test-playing nation.
“We came here with Ireland as massive underdogs and weren’t expected to do anything, just enjoy ourselves.
“That World Cup for me, playing with Ireland, was a big learning curve. I didn’t particularly do very well, didn’t contribute very much to the side.
“But I had to deal with stuff as a batter, playing at the highest level.”
Morgan stays in regular contact with Ireland captain William Porterfield but does not expect his friend to give him any verbal reminders of the water under the bridge.
“I speak to their captain all the time. He is one of my best friends,” he added.
“He doesn’t usually say much. There will be the usual general banter, but that’s expected. I’ve played against the majority of the guys in the side growing up.”
The other differences from 2007 will be the nature of the pitches this time round, with spin sure to play a big part and slow, low bounce - apart from in Barbados - another awkward factor for the batsmen.
“It was a lot bouncier and quicker the last time I was here,” added Morgan.
“It was conducive to spin [in the warm-ups], but that’s good for us with our good spinners.
“I quite enjoy playing against spin. It’s changed things around here, because usually you target the spinners in Twenty20, but here you will target the seamers.
“It will be different and another learning curve.”
Morgan is happy he made the most of his IPL experience, even though he had few opportunities on the pitch for the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
He spent many hours in the nets and expects that to pay off on Caribbean pitches which are beginning to bear an uncanny resemblance to those in India.
“I’m obviously expected to do well because I’m in the playing XI,” he said.
“But what makes it easier for me batting at five is the likes of (Paul) Collingwood, (Kevin) Pietersen and the two power hitters up front.
“That takes a weight off my shoulders and allows me to go out and play my own natural game the majority of the time.”
One day, he still hopes he can harness that natural ability for Test cricket too.
To do so, though, he will probably need to add significantly to his six first-class hundreds.
The problem is, the more Twenty20 and one-day international tournaments proliferate, the fewer opportunities Morgan has to make those big runs needed in the four-day format for Middlesex.
“Weight of runs in county cricket is going to get me into the Test side, there’s no doubt about that,” he said.
“Where my career is at at the moment is I’m playing international cricket and doing okay.
“In the longer scheme of things, I certainly want to play Test cricket.
“First-class cricket will come. The experience I gain in one-day international cricket is no doubt going to stand me in good stead for Test match cricket. I think it will benefit me more playing one-day international cricket at the moment.
“But it’s a difficult balancing act, because the one-day schedule is quite heavy.”