Flower backs Morgan to bounce back
England team director Andy Flower has left the door open for Eoin Morgan to regain his Test place.
The 25-year-old was today omitted from England’s squad for the two Tests in Sri Lanka, starting next month, following a disappointing tour against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.
Number six Morgan, successor to the retired Paul Collingwood, struggled against the spin of Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman, averaging just 13.66 during the 3-0 Test series defeat to Misbah-ul-Haq’s side.
And with conditions in Sri Lanka likely to be similar to those in the Middle East, Morgan has been replaced in the squad by Nottinghamshire all-rounder Samit Patel, who receives his maiden Test call-up.
Flower believes Morgan needs to recapture his confidence and improve his technique, but has refused to rule him out of Test reckoning in the future.
“He’s had a tough tour of the UAE; we’ve been here for two months and it’s been hard work for him,” Flower admitted.
“He has got some work to do I think on his Test game - that’s going to be quite difficult for him considering his next cricket is going to be IPL (Indian Premier League) cricket.
“When he comes back he’ll have limited exposure to opportunities to get four-day cricket under his belt so he has got to go away and give some serious thought to his method in Test cricket.
“I think he has been severely tested out there by the Pakistan spinners, playing spin is one of his strengths, but he particularly struggled out here.
“I still think he has a very exciting future in Test cricket; he’s only 25 years old and he’s a very talented player, a very confident player and a very dangerous player.
“If he can get his game in order so that the next time he gets a chance in Test cricket he can grab it with both hands, then he will fulfil his wishes for his cricket career and England will be a better side for it.”
Kent’s James Tredwell, who made his Test debut against Bangladesh in 2010, has been recalled as another spin option in Andrew Strauss’ squad and, with the inclusion of Patel for the first time, Flower admits he took the sub-continent conditions into account when making his selections.
“When we saw they were going to produce spinning conditions for us, James Tredwell is there as back-up to Graeme Swann,” Flower added.
“The off-spin position is a very important one and he will be there in case Swann goes down with injury. I can’t see them both playing.
“Samit Patel gets his first chance, he will be competing for the number six batting spot with Ravi Bopara and gives us the option of a sixth bowler.
“The addition of Patel allows us the flexibility, if we want, to play three quicks, Swann and a left-arm spinner or indeed he could be a fifth bowler in a two and two attack.
“He is a good player of spin bowling as well and his batting could be useful in the sub-continent conditions.”
England have confirmed seven players - skipper Strauss, Ian Bell, Steven Davies, Monty Panesar, Patel, Matt Prior and Tredwell - will travel to Sri Lanka early in a bid to acclimatise to the conditions and be fully prepared for the first Test at Galle from March 26.
And Flower admits England have acted to ensure they do not repeat the mistakes they made in the UAE.
“I'm quite pleased in a way that we are going to get tested in similar conditions straight away,” Flower explained.
“Not just batsmen but Monty Panesar and Samit Patel are going out early to Sri Lanka. We learnt a couple of lessons on our tour against Pakistan in Dubai, one of them being we need to be up to speed for the first morning of each match so we sent a few players out early, the ones that have not been out here for two months solidly.
“We sent a couple out early to get acclimatised to the heat, but also to concentrate work on playing spin with Graham Gooch. We believe that will give us a better chance come that first Test.”