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Flower refuses to limit Morgan

ICC World Twenty20 West Indies 2010

Eoin Morgan

“Anyone who can hit the ball as cleanly as he does, and hit some of the shots he does, obviously has a great combination,” Andy Flower said of Eoin Morgan's talent

Even without Eoin Morgan, England would probably still be through to the ICC World Twenty20 Super Eights and preparing to face champions Pakistan at the Kensington Oval tomorrow.

Yet the Dublin-born left-hander’s contributions of 55 against West Indies and then 45 versus his native country yesterday have nonetheless been the shining lights in England’s campaign so far.

Team director Andy Flower still hopes Morgan can harness his talents to the demands of first-class and Test cricket in time, but for the moment he is grateful to have such an inventive limited-overs batsman at his disposal.

“I wouldn’t want to pigeon-hole a guy at all, because I think there are all sorts of things he could achieve in his career - and he’s only just started it,” said Flower.

“Whether he goes on to play Test cricket or not, we don’t know. But he’s obviously a guy who’s very good at handling pressure. He’s got a good brain on him and he’s very talented.”

Morgan has shown several times already for England that his mix of innovation, timing and clear thinking is a major asset in the middle order.

“Anyone who can hit the ball as cleanly as he does, and hit some of the shots he does, obviously has a great combination,” added Flower. "We’re very thankful to have him.”

As a batsman, Morgan catches the eye with his range of shots, footwork and ingenuity. There is still more to him than that, though.

“He’s an interesting character,” Flower reported. “He brings a lot to our changing room, and obviously a lot to our side when he’s got the bat in his hand.

“He’s measured things brilliantly. It shows a great understanding of the game.

“I think he’s captained quite a lot through his age groups in Ireland, and I think some of that understanding of the game comes through in his batting.”

Eoin Morgan

“I was surprised at his (four-day) stats last year, because I would expect him to do better than that,” the team director added

The 23-year-old left-hander comes up with audacious deflections to unmanned angles to beat the field, yet Flower explains much of Morgan’s time in the nets is spent not on outrageous reverse sweeps, flicks or ramp shots but making sure his standard technique remains sound.

“A lot of his practice time is based around doing the basics very well. That’s what we work on, and he’s comfortable with that.

“Obviously, he’s practised his innovations - and one of the strengths of those innovations is that he’s unpredictable and can play a whole variety of types of game.”

The success ratio of Morgan’s risk assessment has been uncanny of late. Flower nonetheless accepts it will not always pay off, but he is not about to ask for an inhibiting compromise.

“He has freedom to express himself, and we don’t want to rein that in. We want him to be free to make his own decisions.

“He’ll get it wrong on various occasions, like any batsman does; we’ve got to understand that.

“There are certain situations where you wouldn’t do it. But if you’re good enough at it, and you’ve practised it, and it fits into the way you assess risk then it’s fair enough.”

More of the same will do nicely for England as they prepare for the Super Eights.

The longer-term challenge for Morgan, though, is to translate his limited-overs knack into the longer form of the game - something a first-class average in the mid-30s suggests he has yet to manage.

Flower made it clear he anticipates improvement.

“I was surprised at his (four-day) stats last year, because I would expect him to do better than that,” he said.

“I don’t know how much first-class cricket he can play this season, but I would certainly expect - and I’m sure he does himself - to do a lot better this year.”

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