Morgan ready to stake his claim
Eoin Morgan is determined to make the most of England Lions’ series against Australia A as he plots a route back into Test cricket.
The innovative left-handed batsman was dropped from England’s five-day squad this winter following a disappointing tour of the United Arab Emirates.
Since then, four batsmen - Samit Patel, Jonny Bairstow, Ravi Bopara and James Taylor, who debuted at Headingley Carnegie this week - have been given a chance to fill his boots, and Morgan is realistic about his current position in the Test pecking order.
However, after impressing in limited-overs cricket during the recent NatWest Series against Australia, most notably with a stunning unbeaten 89 at Lord’s, the 25-year-old is confident he is returning to top form.
The opportunity to captain the Lions in two four-day games - to be played at Old Trafford from Tuesday and Edgbaston - therefore represents a welcome opportunity for Morgan to showcase his talents.
“I think early indications of me being back to where I was came in the one-day series earlier this year; when I got my chance I pretty much took it and I feel as if I’m in good form and back to where I was,” Morgan said in an interview with the ECB Podcast.
“Getting the leadership of the Lions is obviously a bonus on top of that.
“I’m still a long way off the Test match team. It’s sort of hard to believe in a way that I went from being in the team to not being anywhere near the squad in about five months, but it is what it is.
“I’m back here at Middlesex and I’ll have an opportunity against Australia with the Lions to stake my claim again.
"I’m going to have plenty of opportunities, both with the Lions and in the one-day series (against South Africa) coming up and I’m really excited.”
Morgan attributes his improved form to technical changes made in the wake of his omission from England’s Test squad.
“After Dubai I reassessed things and I changed a couple of things when I came back to Middlesex. Then when I was over in India I worked pretty hard on them,” he explained.
“One of them was to do with my balance and the other was to do with transferring my weight from back to front foot, which are two very important attributes to my game.
“Hopefully when these problems do arise you come back a better player from them.
“I think you’re left with a no-lose situation, because you go from a position of not scoring runs and that crappy feeling of moping around and feeling down about yourself to having a new challenge in front of you. To come back from that challenge and do well is a fantastic satisfaction in itself.”
In being handed the Lions captaincy, Morgan has succeeded Taylor, the latest man to be tried by England at number six.
The Nottinghamshire batsman’s consistently strong performances for the Lions will undoubtedly have been a factor in his Test selection and Morgan, who thumped 193 against Sri Lanka in his last outing for the second string some 15 months ago, is well aware of how significant the matches against Australia A could prove.
“You’ve seen in the past that if people do well, it is recognised as a major attribute as a stepping stone towards Test match cricket,” he added.
“Guys like Jonathan Trott and myself have scored runs for the Lions and have been recognised with one-day caps and Test match caps, which is great.
“The timing of it pretty much has to be impeccable because Test spots don’t come up very often, but if we do well for the Lions, you never know for the winter tours.”